Sometimes people receive clues that they truly fit on the path they chose in life. Some, like Danielle Butcher, formerly of Backus, now of Youngstown, Ohio, learn this at a young age.

Butcher, a Pine River-Backus High School graduate, is just 23, but in August she received notice from Forbes Magazine informing her that she had been nominated as one of its annual 30 under 30 award recipients for her work as chief operating officer with the American Conservation Coalition.

On Dec. 2, she received confirmation that she and a coworker, Benjamin Backer, were selected in the magazine's “energy” category for their work with ACC advocating for legislation that has positive impacts for the environment while being market based with limited government involvement.

“When I was nominated I was really surprised,” Butcher said. “It wasn't anything on my radar. I haven't been on any 30 under 30 lists. In my circle of work there are a lot of them and a lot smaller ones. Since I hadn't been nominated for any of those it was a really big surprise to be nominated for the Forbes one. When I found out we won, we were overjoyed. It was a huge accomplishment for both of us. We are both so young even for this list. I think the average winner's age is 27. We are 21 and 23. It's definitely a huge accomplishment for us.”

After graduating from Pine River-Backus High School, Butcher was accepted to attend Concordia College, Hamline University and Bethel University.

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"When I found out we won, we were overjoyed. It was a huge accomplishment for both of us. We are both so young even for this list. I think the average winner's age is 27. We are 21 and 23. It's definitely a huge accomplishment for us." -- Danielle Butcher

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"I decided to go to Bethel, but after a few weeks I felt out of place," Butcher said. "While I enjoyed my classes, I didn’t feel like they were helping my career in any way, and frankly felt my time was being wasted, so I dropped out and started my own political strategy and consulting business. I managed some high profile clients, and shortly after that, Benji had the idea for ACC. I jumped on board to help found the organization and haven’t looked back since then."

Butcher thinks her organization attracted attention largely because of its uniqueness.

“First of all, nobody else is doing the work we are doing,” Butcher said. “There aren't any conservative environmental groups that actually advocate for the environment. There are a couple fringe groups that advocate that CO2 is good because it makes things greener. There's no serious policy oriented conservative environmental groups.”

In addition, Butcher said she and the organization have actually had an impact on legislation in the past year, something not every 23-year-old can say.

“We've been a really big player on Capitol Hill this year,” Butcher said. “We helped create the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus and I think that probably had something to do with that. Benji also testified before Congress on climate change. I think that could have had something to do with it as well.”

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“First of all, nobody else is doing the work we are doing,” Butcher said. “There aren't any conservative environmental groups that actually advocate for the environment." -- Danielle Butcher

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If you are from Backus and familiar with Butcher's family, it may come as some surprise that Butcher is so heavily involved with a conservative 501c3, as much of her family is heavily involved in Democratic activity locally. Then again, if you knew her before she left the Pine River area, you may have witnessed her conservative nature growing into what it is today.

Butcher lived in Backus growing up and went first to the Backus School building and then Pine River. She was captain of the school's dance team for four years and performed with choir and chamber choir, and she was named Miss Pine River in 2014.

She had a mixed bag when it came to academics. She said she excelled at classes where she had an interest, and among them were classes pertaining to current affairs. After all, those classes related to subjects that were important in her family.

“My whole family is pretty politically involved. My Grandma Barb is very involved in the community and politics and so is my Grandpa Dave. So when I was young they would bring me and my siblings to town hall meetings or political rallies or to march in parades and hand out stickers for candidates. That's kind of where the politics interest came from,” Butcher said. “My dad would drive us to school every morning. We'd always listen to NPR (National Public Radio) or MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) in the car. I remember being fascinated by the news and listening to it. I took current event classes at school. I would come home and we would talk about it. I think all those things played a really big role in what I do now.”

At first, Butcher said she leaned left in her political thinking. Even today she still values the environment and people's well being and the things that her family members value. But it's the approach that led her to a more conservative view of things. That transition, however, started in secret.

“I was scared to tell them that so I started an anonymous Twitter account,” Butcher said. “I started sharing my ideas and views on things. It got popular really fast. I think it got like 12,000 followers in the first year. I was 15-16 at the time. I kept doing that and getting big opportunities because of it. I interned in Richmond, Virginia, for two summers because of the Twitter account. I met tons of people. I met Benji on Twitter.”

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"From a very early age I was exposed to benefits of clean energy and how it can help not only low income communities, but also everyone. It's something that impacts climate change and that was important to me” -- Danielle Butcher

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Outright admitting her views to her family came gradually. She started by claiming to play devil's advocate during political discussions with family members, and when her Twitter account hit 18,000 followers, she decided she wanted credit for it.

She said her family had likely figured out on their own that the right-wing perspectives she voiced during discussions were her own, but when she did finally blatantly announce to them that she was a conservative, she said her dad just laughed. He was, after all, the reason her conservative views include an emphasis on environmental actions.

“My parents are divorced,” Butcher said. “I grew up seeing both of them but primarily my dad. I think he really played a huge role in what I do today. He works for RREAL Solar. Obviously that's a clean energy group. From a very early age I was exposed to benefits of clean energy and how it can help not only low income communities, but also everyone. It's something that impacts climate change and that was important to me”

Butcher said ACC has several campaigns in the works, with one campaign on ocean plastic awareness and another on the environmental benefits of responsible hunting.

Is it any wonder where this native of Backus learned to value those subjects?