2 youths earn commissioner’s awards for conservation efforts

September 8, 2021

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources honored two youths for their outstanding conservation efforts during a ceremony Friday, Sept. 3, at the Minnesota State Fair.

Grant Abelson from Cottage Grove, Minn., in Washington County received the 4-H award and Jed Fisher from Maplewood, Minn., in Ramsey County received the Future Farmers of America (FFA) award during a ceremony held at the DNR event stage.

The DNR Commissioner’s Youth Awards are given annually to an FFA student and 4-H member who have demonstrated initiative, leadership, creativity and achievement in conservation and wise use of natural and agricultural resources. This is the 30th year of the award program.

While looking for volunteer opportunities that matched his environmental interests, 4-H member Grant Abelson noticed a citizen scientist display at the Science Museum of Minnesota. This led Grant to discover the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Citizen Stream Monitoring Program.

As a volunteer with the program, Grant was able to manage the water quality monitoring of a stream not far from his home in Washington County. The data collected citizen volunteers, including Grant, is used to advance understanding of the health of 12,200 lakes and 92,000 miles of streams in Minnesota.

This experience with stream monitoring quickly become Grant’s 4-H project. Grant also enjoys participating in cross-country running and cross-country skiing. In the future, Grant hopes to continue pursuing his interest in hydrology and environmental engineering.

Grant is the son of Jeff and Jolene Abelson.

Fisher's FFA supervised agricultural experience began with his interest in a small forest used by his Boy Scout Troop. Jed created a forest management plan for this site. The plan included inventory, survey and research components.

Jed’s completed plan focused on maintaining the forest ecosystem and increasing biodiversity. With a plan in hand, Jed enlisted the help of his Boy Scout troop to begin implementing the plan by removing invasive species, planting new trees, and continuing to monitor forest health. In addition, Jed led his FFA chapter’s Forestry Team in competition and teaching forestry curriculum.

Jed also logged an impressive 637 community service hours in his high school career, and earned the bronze Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Jed is currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota to continue pursuing his interests in Forestry.

Jed is the son of Mark and Susan Fisher.