Faced with a decision at the age of 16 to either go "hard core" on her schooling or get involved with the Eglin Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, Robin chose the latter.

DESTIN — Almost one year ago, Robin Payton decided at the age of 16 to serve her community.

Like her mom, Gina, said, "If she sets her mind to something, she can do it."

And she did.

Faced with a decision to either go "hard core" on her schooling or get involved with the Eglin Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, Robin chose the latter.

"We do a lot of leadership and emergency services opportunities for teenagers and young adults of all ages," said Robin, who lives in Destin.

Robin said the Civil Air Patrol team meets weekly at Eglin Air Force Base and has three main missions: air space education, character development and physical fitness.

"I absolutely love it," she said.

Robin is also certified as a Level 1 ground search-and-rescue technician.

Although she was hesitant to mention it, her mother said Robin was honored as a distinguished graduate when she graduated emergency services school this summer, where she had to do intense training to receive the honor.

Robin also served her community in the past by serving food and taking supplies with her church to victims of Hurricane Michael in 2018.

"It was a very eye-opening experience, and it kind of showed me what I want to do with my life," she said.

What Robin wants to do is serve her community through the military however it works out, whether through continuing with the Civil Air Patrol, the Navy or the Air Force.

"The feeling of helping other people and seeing how they react when a young person steps out and wants to help them expecting nothing in return is enough for me," Robin said.

Right now, Robin focuses on Civil Air Patrol and studying at Northwest Florida State College. Robin said she hopes to gain leadership experience through Civil Air Patrol that can help her if she decides to go to the Air Force or the Naval Academy.

The military isn't new to Robin.

She said she inherited a love for service from her parents, who both went to the Naval Academy and after graduation were commissioned to the Marine Corps. Gina served six years, and Robin's father recently retired after 27 years of being a military pilot, which is where, Gina said, Robin's love for the sky comes from.

"It's a little scary at first, but it's definitely encouraging to see her stepping out and taking initiative," Gina said. "Just finding the passion for what she loves to do makes any parent happy."