The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association (PBSBA) provides a yearly opportunity for graduating seniors from Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus high schools to apply for a $1,000 scholarship.
At an awards ceremony May 18, PBSBA member Mike Schwieters presented Levi Palmer of Pequot Lakes High School with the Linda Ulland Memorial Scholarship.
Palmer strongly qualified for the scholarship with his demonstrated commitment to environmental issues and his participation in community service and volunteerism.
A consummate Boy Scout, Palmer led a group of Scouts on a community project improving the walking trail at the historic fire tower located on County State Aid Highway 11 in Pequot Lakes. With interests in running, biking, swimming, hiking, camping and observing nature and the beauty of Minnesota's rivers and lakes, Palmer wrote his greatest recent accomplishment was attending the cross country state tournament and learning belief in himself and his team.
Included in Palmer's resume are the following awards: Eagle Scout rank, Eagle Palm Award, ExCEL Award, class of 2016 valedictorian, 2015 Most Improved Athlete award, letter winner in band and track and field. Volunteerism totaling 206 hours included working at the Ideal Beef Feed; student RESPECT retreat; reconstructing school for special needs in Panama; PLHS blood drive; Friendship Club with disabled students; food shelf distribution on Thanksgiving; parades; roadside cleanups; mission trip helping at Salvation Army, children's home and nursing home; and Day of Caring at a nursing home.
Palmer will begin study at the University of Minnesota, pursuing a major in chemical engineering and a minor in biology and pharmacology. He plans for a career as a chemical engineer, pharmacist or anesthesiologist.
In answer to the question, "What environmental issues concerned you," he responded: "The impact of invasive species could lead to extinction of algae in the lakes to birds and land animals. Although there are some attempts at solutions, I believe it should be a top priority to stop these species in their tracks."
Regarding the impact of the scenic byway, Palmer wrote: "With the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, our community and surrounding towns have been blessed with a resource that protects and posts valuable locations rich with history and nature."
The PBSBA board established the Linda Ulland Memorial Scholarship shortly after Ulland's passing Dec. 26, 2011. The scholarship has been available to graduating seniors from these two scenic byway route schools since 2012. One scholarship is available each year to students with a strong interest in community service and environmental issues.
Ulland was instrumental in helping the PBSBA organize as a nonprofit group and in crafting the bedrock documents that continue to guide the association today. Her dedication and many volunteer hours assured the establishment and longevity of the byway.
The Linda Ulland Memorial Scholarship provides the PBSBA with an opportunity to honor Ulland's commitment, recognize the results of that commitment and challenge others to follow in her Paul Bunyan-sized footsteps of community service and volunteerism.
For more information on the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, go to www.paulbunyanscenicbyway.org.