Jack Nelsen of Staples, Minn. received the Future Farmers of America (FFA) award from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr during a ceremony Aug. 31 at the Minnesota State Fair.
The DNR Commissioner's Youth Award is given annually to a FFA student who has demonstrated initiative, leadership, creativity and achievement in the conservation and wise use of natural and agricultural resources. This is the 21st year of the award program.
Nelsen has worked on his wildlife production and management project for four years after starting with furbearer trapping and habitat improvement projects.
"Jack's accomplishments and work in wildlife are truly a story of personal interest, setting goals and putting in a lot of time and hard work," said Kerry Lindgren, Jack's FFA advisor. "Jack has dedicated himself to the study of wildlife and its management by continuing to challenge himself with new experiences."
He has worked in Alaska on a salmon fishing boat during the last four summers. Jack started as a deck hand, but because of his excellent work ethic and responsible behavior, he is now entrusted with driving the boat, running the nets and other key duties.
In the fall, he works as assistant manager at the 320-acre Moran Hunting Club organizing and running hunts. This work has also taught him business and marketing skills.
"This well-rounded young man is active in Ducks Unlimited and the Minnesota Trappers Association and has been an honor roll member throughout high school," said Landwehr.
Nelsen also volunteers at his church and is an officer for the Staples Motley FFA Chapter.
He graduated from Staples Motley High School in 2012. He will attend North Dakota State University or St. Cloud State University next spring, where he plans to major in natural resources and law enforcement. This year he plans to return to work in Alaska and also participate in a semester at the International Wilderness Leadership School in Patagonia.
When he was 10 years old, Nelsen shot an Alaska-Yukon bull moose that was the second largest ever recorded in the world.
Jack is the son of Vall Murray and Dean Nelsen. Also present at the award ceremony were Jack's FFA Advisor Kerry Lindgren, and the state FFA advisors Joel Larsen and Jim Ertl.