Hunter Kasprowicz- Warren MN – $2000
The first experience that pushed me to pursue into the Natural Resource field was with my father when I was ten years old. He took me out on my first deer hunt where after waiting two days and only seeing a single doe, out walks a spike buck. Taking what I have learned while shooting my .243 cal at the rifle range, I laid a perfect heart shot on him. I was hooked after this! I started with fishing earlier in my childhood then deer hunting and I tried goose hunting with my grandfather, which I found to be super exciting, and unpredictable. The fact that wildlife is unpredictable and living their lives the best they can really set in for me at a young age. I was not always into the outdoors. I was sucked into the video gaming age where that is what was new and cool. Spending hours in front of a TV made me realize that this is not the way to spend my free time.
My grandfather always talked about how he wanted to get back into trapping as this is something he did quite often when he was younger. Therefore, I decided I would like to try it and see how I would enjoy it. I started with the pocket gopher as these critters were always along our country roads. I had to teach myself how to do this because I did not know of anyone else that could teach me the ways. After a lot of misses and sprung traps, I thought it was terrible and pointless. I told my grandfather about how I failed to trap any gophers. When he heard this he set out to learn himself and a couple of weeks later, he came to me, took me out on his short trap line, and showed me what he has learned to work and what does not. He contributed to my learning experience with fox and coyote trapping too by getting his friend to take me out on his trap line and show me a few different foothold sets he uses and how to properly set a snare to target your target animal. This experience helped me turn my whole life to focus on the outdoors and all the different wildlife out there.
When I turned sixteen and bought my first truck, I was super excited to expand my trap line farther than one square mile around my father’s house. Every day I was learning more and more about how the coyotes move and how the fox shares the area with these more dominant critters. Doing this helped me become more successful but also appreciate how the wildlife can live in the crazy Northern Minnesota weather. Trying new things as they came was my favorite thing to do. Now that I am through my first year of college and working for the USDA Forest Service, I know this is the field I want to spend the rest of my life. Working with my professors and peers helped me realize these are my kind of people and being able to talk about wildlife all day is just amazing to me. Always being sucked into my Natural Resource classes and not as interested in my general courses made me realize this is what I want to do with my life. Now working for the Forest Service and being outside all day every day, identifying trees I learned in class and birds I learned from my friend, the outdoors is the place for me. With all my early outdoor experiences, I have had and with my Natural Resources club, The Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society, and the Conservation Federation, I found wildlife to be my passion. One of my long-term goals is to get a summer internship every summer through college with a natural resources agency. Federal would be best like I am now, but the state would also be a great opportunity. Another long-term goal of mine is to be financially stable through college. So far, I have been doing a decent job but need to keep working on it. My third long-term goal is to keep a 4.0 GPA through college. This I know will take a lot of work and that is why I want to do it. Pushing myself to do the best is what makes me happy and become successful in my career. Some short-term goals I have are to be more active in clubs on campus this fall. Getting more leadership opportunities would help me put my name out there. Another short-term goal is to stay in better contact with my family while I am away. I live in Blackduck at the Forest Service Ranger Station, which is about three hours from both my parents’ houses. Doing this helps me feel less lonely and keeps my family close to me, which is important to me. My third short-term goal is to learn everything I can about the Chippewa National Forest to come back to school and teach my peers about it and hopefully impress my professors with what I have learned. I see myself in five years at a job in the middle of nowhere where I am studying a big game species and probably soaking wet from the rain or snow. That is what I find so great about this career is that it can take me anywhere.
My definition of conservation is to make use of the natural world not for ourselves but the future. This means that what we do now with our natural resources should not be for us in one year but for our grandchildren and their children to enjoy. Conservation is our way of taking what we have now and finding ways to make it last as long as possible. Being smart about our decisions is important to conserve our natural resources to work with the growing populations of humans as well as the fluctuating populations of wildlife. Managing the environment is one thing I have found to be the most difficult because of people that do not appreciate the wildlife, vegetation, and what they all do for us that most of the public does not know. However, by working together with different groups and agencies and by researching and studying the impacts of human environment co-existence this world of conservation will be what saves us all from early death and overpopulation. I find that the consumptive wildlife activities we do help our society in more than one way. First, it regulates the population, which helps lessen the amount of disease that can be carried from a wild animal to a human or other wild animal. It also keeps the native wildlife in their habitats and keeps out the non-native species that could wipe out a native species very quickly. Another reason for a consumptive wildlife activity like trapping is to make a living. Not so much anymore but there are still people out there that the fur market is all they have for an income and whatever garments or art they can make with the wildlife to up the value to get the most out of the animal. Trapping in urban areas has been the most successful way of removing the wildlife that does not belong in that area and moving them to another area that is better suited for their natural needs. Hunting and fishing are other consumptive wildlife activities that most of the world uses to have meat in the freezer and as a way to get the family together for a fun time in the great outdoors. I hope this letter finds its way to your heart about my passion for the natural resources field and my love for wildlife and the environment that surrounds us all.
Shaelyn Predmore- Pine Island MN – $1000
I chose the biology field because I have always had an interest in the way the human body works. Since I was three years old, I knew that I wanted to be a doctor. I have always loved helping others as it brings me an abundance of joy. Through school, I have gained a deeper interest in the human brain and how all the systems work together to keep us functioning. From my freshman year of high school and having the opportunity to take Biomedical Science class which opened the doors to the medical field, to my recent college Biology classes, I have been able to dissect a sheep brain, pig heart and fetal pig. I found it very fascinating how similar they were to those of a human. I remember being amazed by the fact that the different parts of the organs that we learned about in class were right there in front of me physically. I knew from the first moment that I needed to be in the medical field in some way. I continue my exposure to the world of biology through the two biology courses I took in college this year, specifically getting done first and being asked by my professor to show others my way of how it worked. Due to my experience in trapping and hunting and learning the life cycle of animals, I naturally did not have the distaste that others were showing during this, often a barrier to being successful in a biology lab environment. These classes have broadened my perspective on the natural and physical world, and next year will advance that even further once I take a course on genetics. Another aspect of my life that influenced my career choice was my father and grandpas. Ever since I was a young girl, my father and grandpa took me out hunting, fishing, and trapping. Through these experiences, I was able to learn so much about the natural world around me.
No matter what kind of action we had, my father would always make a point to teach me something while we were out there. Many times, we would stop on the way to our tree stand so he could show me an animal track and teach me about that animal. Now, as a young adult, I find myself doing the same thing, as when I am out hiking, I often find scat and tracks from animals. Thanks to my father, I can identify them and be curious about the world around me. I am very thankful that my father taught me how to trap. He took me out every year and taught me how to trap. My grandpa also made an impact on me. Before he passed, he was a medic in the war. I can recall my father telling me stories about how my grandpa had a dream of becoming a doctor. Unfortunately, he was never able to. From hearing these stories, I was inspired to live out my grandpa’s dreams. When I was a young teen, my grandpa had a kidney transplant. Miraculously, he was able to receive his kidney from my father. Following them through their journey of the transplant, doctor appointments, and surgery, I saw first-hand how amazing the human body and medical field is. These components influenced my choice in biology because of both the human and natural world elements that it has to offer. I am extremely fascinated by how nature works and how the human
body works. By studying biology, I will be able to learn a little bit about both and am intrigued by how parallel human and animal behavior can be. I also feel these men were and are leaders in this world, which I strive to be through being a leader in my classes, joining the Biology Club at the University of MN Duluth where I can volunteer at the local hospital, making blankets for the children in the hospital and approaching a professor to start some research projects.
My first long term goal is to graduate from college with my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with a minor in Psychology. I am already halfway through this journey. I came into college with many credits from post-secondary during high school, and I now have my first full year of college under my belt. I am currently taking three summer courses and will be able to graduate a year early. I have been selected to take a master’s level Psychology class this Fall, called Cognition and Emotion, which I am elated for this experience and challenge. My second long term goal is to graduate from medical school. I have had this vision since I started as it entails not only knowledge, but experience. This summer, I have been working at Cottagewood Senior Community and have completed the training to become a Resident Assistant, working in cottages with those that have Alzheimer’s and Dementia. My third long term goal is to become a neurologist. After taking psychology courses in high school and several this past year, I have grown fascinated with the brain and how it works. Given my interest in neurology, my employment at Cottagewood has been a very comfortable transition for me and I continue reading about the brain and dementia as well as hands on learning with residents at this wonderful facility. My first short term goal is to lose fifteen pounds. Through hiking, working out and yoga, I will become healthier and begin to see improvements. My second short term goal is to raise my GPA by getting an A in Genetics. Although I had good grades in high school and school always came easy to me, college proved to be more challenging than I expected. My first semester threw obstacles at me that were hard to overcome. I worked harder in the second semester and saw improvements. With continued determination and hard work, I believe that I can get an A in Genetics in the fall and boost my GPA. My third short term goal is to become more confident with myself. Through continued college presentations, group work and volunteering, I will continue growth in my confidence, as I did during my first year already. I am a leader in many things and so proud of it. In five years, I ideally see myself healthy and deep in my journey in medical school. I hope to attend medical school in Florida, or somewhere down south, which will give me diversity, variety of knowledge and fulfill my love of traveling.
My definition of conservation is protecting the world around us. It is important to conserve and manage the environment because it is the only home we have. If we do not protect our world, we ultimately will not survive. Eventually, our environment will be ruined, and this will in turn kill off our wildlife. Without wildlife, we may not have any food or water. Our ecosystem will be ruined. If we do not protect our environment, then we cannot protect ourselves. I feel that part of protecting our environment is also educating others, modeling, and showing others how we can take care of the environment. For example, when I go shopping, I bring my own reusable bag instead of using the provided plastic ones. This helps the environment by limiting the amount of plastic and waste in our landfills and waters. I have also grown a deeper love for plants and nature through the biology courses I have taken this year and visiting the greenhouse on campus to learn more. We learned so much about plants, their life cycles, and how they impact and contribute to our ecosystem. We also learned how to reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to a healthy impact on our world. I now have many plants and have introduced my roommates to the fun of caring for plants as well! This is another example of how nature lives in my everyday life, no matter what the season may be. In a spring psychology class, I studied how the earth grounds you, and how animals in the wild have a sense of belonging and soundness, unlike many humans who are under stress and rigorous timelines. I learned that on a stressful day, I walk barefoot through the grass, on the earth, gaining my connection to nature, and feeling my purpose.
I have attended the MN Trappers Association Convention every year with my family since I was a baby. I took for granted what was instilled in me as a trapping family, until I realized that others did not know or fully understand. As I think about it and teach others about trapping, I know that trapping contributes to our society by keeping the ecosystem healthy. The past few years at the MTA Convention, I have helped with demos and kids’ activities, and these experiences have raised my awareness that these kids are our future, are eager to learn and it has given me gratification in being a part of that. By managing the population of animals, it keeps their worlds healthy and thriving. If we did not maintain the animal population, they would be killed off by lack of food or the human world. For example, trapping coyotes helps the farmers produce more milk by limiting the number of cows killed, or of chickens killed who were laying eggs. This helps the economy by increasing the number of dairy products used by the whole world. By buying and selling furs, this helps the economy. It also helps those who own trapping businesses. By having this knowledge, I educate others about the positive aspect of trapping. This will help me to advocate for the trapping community and aim for it to stay strong and alive. Another example of wildlife activity in modern society is managing the deer population, with the DNR making available additional deer tags and seasons, adding in-city bow hunts, and youth hunts, which is effective in avoiding deer getting hit on the road by cars.
Coming from a trapping family has shown me hard work, dedication, and positivity. I have learned that a trapline may not always produce, and may not always be easy due to weather, terrain or environment, but that then I need to try harder and never give up. This is much like life each day, taking classes, finding a job, having relationships, and learning and growing. I feel I will always have trapping and hunting in my life as a root, not only to do throughout each year, but to talk about memories, be with family, ask questions and share stories. As I have a family of my own someday, I will carry on this tradition of trapping and hunting animals.
This past year has brought many changes and growth. I have finished my first year of college, lived on my own for the first time, and met many new life-long friends. I sensed right away when I moved into my apartment with a tree-lined view, that I would be right at home. I saw deer daily and was able to spend time walking the nearby woods and trails, showing others the signs and sounds of wildlife. I learned maturity, accountability, and responsibility. I now feel more confident in myself. I have grown to look at Duluth as my home, and I feel so comfortable and happy here! I look forward to continuing my education in the biology and psychology fields. I also look forward to learning more about Lake Superior and its surrounding area along with all the hunting, fishing, and trapping that is alive in this area. I will forever take my passion for the outdoors wherever I go in life and for this I am thankful.
Abigail Blazevic- Esko MN – $1000
My past consisted of my dad always telling me “you get what you give.” and it took me up until halfway through high school to realize what that meant. Growing up going to private schools and public schools, with all the dumb cliques was definitely a struggle for me. I never felt like I was really associated with a specific group. You had to be super athletic, wear the most expensive clothes, be super smart, have the most perfect body, or even the most money to even come close to “fitting in”. I never really knew who I was until maybe 11th grade when I realized there was no point in fighting the teenage lifestyle anymore. Just to be seen by society and be popular. As I kept to myself not only did my grades begin to excel but my mentality and reputation grew with it. I was named the so-called mom in high school. Everyone would look up to me and come to me with questions and concerns they had about their personal lives. I poured my heart into helping others and being kind, which made me realize that my love for caring could turn into a lifelong career. Life was going great for me at the end of junior year I joined the volunteer fire department in Esko and started working as a CNA on the medical surgery floor at Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet. Responding to calls and helping out people on their worst days made me feel invincible and I became better for it. Although with time a lot of bad came from it too. I earned the title of a “people pleaser” and nearly forgot what was in my own better interest. I never had time to stop and think about what I wanted. But I knew that as long as everyone else was happy, everything would be okay. March of 2021 rolled around and that’s when I hit my lowest point. I worked all summer long and bought a super clean 1997 cherry red GMC Sierra 1500 which I ended up wrapping myself around a tree in driving home one night and woke up in the hospital hours later barely being able to spell my own name or remember anything that had happened. The school became a struggle with my memory loss. I had tried going to four different kinds of therapy for it and it all became too overwhelming for me. For a while, I gave up on everything. It felt like everything I had ever worked hard towards was all ripped away from me in just a few hours. My parents and teachers had to hold my hand and help me finish out my senior year. I was enrolled in PSEO classes at the time and my college professors were very understanding and did their best to help me finish as well. I have never been the type to ask for help so this just made it feel worse on me.
After graduation, I spent my summer working and trying to find myself again. I loved the idea of making my own money and having freedom. I got accepted into college at Fond du Lac in Cloquet and started working on my undergraduate classes for my RN degree. I soon realized I had pushed myself too far with my brain injury and ended up flunking out that semester. So, I quit school. My family pushed me and constantly reminded me of all the good that could come out of going back to school, so I registered for fall classes starting August 22nd and am beyond excited to finally finish what I had started before. As I stated a while back “you get what you give.” I am prepared to give my heart out to the world and heal as many people as I can. During these times we need more positivity than anything. Covid hit everyone hard not only health-wise, but our economy affected a lot financially. Leaving many people stranded, unable to pay bills and make ends meet. I find it easier to fall asleep at night knowing I made a difference in someone’s life today. I chose nursing because of my love for people. Starting as a CNA I just knew I was in it for life when I would wake my residents up smiling every single morning. Regardless of how bad my day was going. Being a first responder gave me a love for adrenaline and working in the unknown. That’s my favorite part about working in the medical field. You see different things every single day. New patients, different illnesses, and injuries. I love the way I feel knowing I put all my effort in and made someone feel better. Truly that is my purpose in life, and if it wasn’t… I would not have walked away from the accident the way I did the night of March 2nd. I used that pain to make me stronger. And because of that pain, my patients get better care, and I have become a better person. Ideally three long term goals I have would first be to finish out nursing school, secondly buy my own house, and thirdly work as a flight nurse based out of Minneapolis.
Three short term goals for me are first to save money for tuition, keep working my way up at my current job no matter how hard it gets, and keep my family close because I know they are my biggest supporters. But I have also learned that life doesn’t always go how you planned so I am learning to be more flexible as I go along. My definition of conservation is maintaining balance throughout different ecosystems. For example, in previous summers we have had a family of muskrats living in our pond in our yard and they dig tunnel systems so when my mom goes to mow the lawn, the ground collapses, and the lawn mower gets stuck, and it damages the grass. To alleviate the problem, we got rid of the muskrats (at least we thought we did because they seem to come back every year.) Being raised in a family that traps, I see lots of benefits from it. Not only does it help keep the predator and prey affect balanced, but it also decreases damage to property and wild ecosystems, allows plant and animal species to flourish, provides food for our family, and provides an income with the value of all the fur we harvest in a season.
Jeremiah Johnson- Duluth MN – $1000
Trapping was a prevalent topic throughout my youth, coming from a line of trappers that face the wild head-on. Some of the best memories from that childhood involve the aspects of trapping, from the preparation of setting up the traps, with the help of my father of course, to the joy of catching the elusive critter and being dubbed the family supreme squirrel trapper. As a child the outdoors was my primary place of play, from running around in our yard to exploring the woods behind our house. Until I began preschool, I can guarantee that I was outside far more than inside, and despite the constant scratches and scrapped knees that I worried my mother with, I absolutely loved it out there. For trapping, I was never as invested in it as my siblings or parents were, but it still influenced me greatly. One of the best lessons that I learned from my experience and observation of trapping was the importance of patience and diligence, though I didn’t learn the patience portion until I had grown a bit older. My father was out just about every day, constantly checking both the set traps and the baits he had put out. As a child, it had astounded me how this man was always able to go out and check what fruits his labor had borne, even if he had slaved away at his job for the whole day. Eventually, I came to realize that there was one main reason why he did it: he loved it. He loved being out in the wilderness and being at one with nature when he was out there. That implanted one idea in my young mind. It’s not work if you love it, and that’s the attitude I have kept with me since. It’s the reason I have chosen to go into the computer science. I haven’t chosen it because of the pay, my father is paid well, but it breaks his body and he doesn’t want that for his children. I didn’t choose it because it’s easy, as there are a multitude of stories of people spending hours upon hours struggling with their coding projects. I choose it because I truly like it. I like the way it can be a struggle to create a relatively simple program, like entering a recipe and getting out the ingredients you need. The sense of achievement from fixing a minor error that had been screwing up your whole project is immense. One of the first experiences I had with this was in my senior year of high school, in a coding class that had us develop some simple programs, like a quadratic equation solver. I spent hours upon hours trying method after method to get it to work and growing more and more frustrated. Persevering throughout projects like that made the completed project worth it even more. Additionally, the wide application of the field makes it even more appealing. You can apply it from small things, like data entry for a small general store, to expanding and improving a vast streaming network like YouTube and Netflix.
For myself, I want to help create a full sensory immersion technology. Such technology would allow to fully experience someplace they are not normally able to go. A person in the urban Midwest could simply put on some sort of headgear and be allowed to experience the beauty of Alaska without the expenses of travel and accommodation. This type of technology cannot replace the real experience of being in those places, but it can offer a substitute for those cannot experience the reality for whatever reason, be it monetary reasons, physical disabilities, or obligations. It is with this hope that I am going for a Computer Science degree, to further develop this tech. These experiences helped reveal what I wanted in my future. The ability to make improvements to a multitude of programs and problems is a dream to me, and something that I will be striving for now. It’s what has led me to choose the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities for the College of Science and Engineering, and switch from Engineering, my previous declared major, to Computer Science. I am a person that tends to focus on the present rather than the future, which sometimes has some problems, namely procrastination in the form of assignments that always end up being pushed until later, but there are some goals that I want to achieve.
Firstly, for the short-term, I want to build a strengthen the connections I have built through my freshman year here. Additionally, I also want to continue to be a pillar of support for those around me, to be someone that they can place their trust in and someone they can have in their corner no matter what. I also want to make sure that I can take the experience of living in the city and use that to treasure the countryside that I grew up in even more whenever I return. In the long-term I want the focus of my future career to be on developing full sensory immersion technology. This type of technology can have a massive effect in a multitude of fields, both professional and recreational. If there was a way for a person to essentially enter a virtual world that feels just like the normal world, the possibilities are literally only limited by our imagination. We can have medical students performing complex surgeries with no one at risk. Paraplegics could leave their limitations behind and experience freedom of movement once again, or in some cases for the first time. Recreationally, we could have people explore underneath the ocean without the need of complex gear, or have hikers climb mountains for sights they might never see. We could even be able to bring back things that would no longer be around, such as extinct species that no longer roam around in the wild or captivity. For me, this could be a paradise.
To do that, I need to graduate in good standing, and lastly continue to let my curiosity drive my passion That dream is still far off though, and in the meantime, we must stay within the limits of reality. That includes the limited resources we have on the planet, such as wilderness and wildlife, which need to be managed so we can enjoy them for far more generations. That is my idea of conservation, using our resources without exhausting or eliminating nature’s bounty. In the past decade, over 450 species have been declared extinct. This rate of extinction is not sustainable, and without careful management of our natural resources, we may see many more in the coming decades. That doesn’t mean we should not touch the resources at all. After all, this country was built by our predecessors using the resources of the land. I believe we should follow their example and be a steward over the natural resources in a sustainable way that is more interactive than simply leaving the land alone. Some of the first people that explored North America were trappers, seeking the rich furs that came from here. They were able to go head-to-head with the wilderness and come out on top, taking the resources that were here and applying them to further the economy. Their efforts led to more and more people coming to North America and provided a connection between these sportsmen who harvested the furs and the worldwide demand for them. Being an owner of furs was a great symbol of wealth back in the day, and the profits from these trades helped advance our culture. Nowadays, it’s different, as a consumptive wildlife activity like trapping isn’t a staple of profit to most people, but it holds a different meaning. Now, it can teach others about their history, what their ancestors went through, as well as showing the grace and beauty of the wild. As current trappers, we have a responsibility to educate those who will implement the legislation, who often don’t have the same hands-on experience as current sportsman. Even though the lessons these wildlife activities teach have changed, they are no less important than they were before.