Seventeen-year-old Cole Manley has to watch what he does from now on. He's not just any ol' teen anymore. The Westport resident was recently honored by Stamford-based World Affairs Forum as a 2010 Future Global Leader, one of 37 out of approximately 50,000 high school students across Fairfield County to receive such an honor. Established in 2009, the Future Global Leader Award program honors junior-year students at each participating high school, who demonstrate outstanding leadership in understanding global issues and solving global problems. High school principals designate their future global leader based on these criteria.

"I take it as an honor," the Staples High School student said of the award. He and the 36 others received a certificate of award and are eligible to compete for the World Affairs Forum's $10,000 college scholarship, which will be presented in the fall to the student judged most outstanding among the Fairfield County designees. The World Affairs Forum is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes understanding of global affairs and America's role in the world. The forum is an affiliate of World Affairs Councils of America.

Does he feel pressure to live up to the global leader title?

"I think I'll do my best to live up to it and I'm just going to keep doing what I do and help out in Norwalk and make as much out of what I have as I can," he said.

Every summer since his freshman year, Manley, a former junior varsity tennis player, has been involved in the Norwalk Grassroots Tennis Program, helping teach the sport to children who otherwise wouldn't be exposed to tennis or couldn't afford lessons.

"I definitely realized that I have opportunities far greater than any of the children in Norwalk," said Manley. "And so I really wanted to help out and make some worth out of my position and help these children."

Manley is working locally before making a difference globally. He's had an interest in the United Nations, traveling and international relations since he was a young boy. Whereas other children were concerned about buying the latest video game, Manley was more concerned about the U.S.-Iraq war and other worldly affairs. When his AP Government teacher last year told the class to study various positions in government and do a research project on it, Manley chose to investigate the position of U.S. representative to the U.N.

"It got a good reaction," Manley said, adding that he learned much more about the role a U.N. ambassador plays, and how he or she must collaborate with other nations in pursuit of a more peaceful world.

Manley had real-life experience to draw on for his project. He and his family visited the United Nations several years ago on a trip to New York City. He enjoyed that visit, and said if he doesn't pursue a career in social studies or become a teacher, he definitely wouldn't mind working at the U.N.

Lori Murray, chairman of the World Affairs Forum's Future Global Leader Award Program, said Manley is a well-rounded student. He was part of the team that placed first in the state Geography Challenge. That's not all. He also won an outstanding achievement award in AP Environmental Science. He is also involved in Eco Fest, an annual day-long music and environmental education festival that seeks to raise environmental awareness in Fairfield County. Manley has also written for Inklings, Staples High School's student newspaper. One article he wrote on diversity was called "Inside the Bubble."

As a future global leader, Manley has been invited to attend an afternoon conference in New York City this fall sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition, he and the other winners will be invited to WAF lectures and events in Fairfield County throughout the 2010-11 school year.

Manley hopes to be selected as the overall Future Global Leader of Fairfield County and, along with it, the $10,000 college scholarship. He, like the others under consideration, had to submit a scholarship application, which required writing an essay about a global issue.

"I wrote about global warming and the climate change that is so severely threatening the environment," Manley said, noting that he chose the topic because of his junior-year AP class in environmental science and his related interests such as helping out at EcoFest and writing a few articles about the environment teacher at Staples, Michael Aitkenhead, and the Wakeman Town Farm.

Murray said the awards recognize the students' "leadership in high school on global issues."

"And we hope that receiving the award will encourage them to continue that leadership and inspire the younger students at the schools to see them as role models," she said.