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Perham High School student wins DNR’s FFA award

FFA Award Winner Gary Delaney with DNR Commissioner Merriam Hard work and a passion for protecting and preserving Minnesota’s natural environments earned Gary Delaney, 17, Perham, the annual Future Farmers of America (FFA) award from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam presented Delaney with the award during a ceremony at the Minnesota State Fair.

During the past three years, Delaney worked with his local FFA chapter and the DNR to plant more than 50,000 trees. Those plantings have helped reduce erosion and pollution in area lakes and rivers, provided additional habitat for birds and other wildlife and improved community aesthetics.

Delaney said the goals for his project were to increase his personal knowledge of natural resources and help make a difference in his community.

“It was hard work but I’ve enjoyed seeing how much the landscape has changed,” Delaney said. “I can’t wait to come back in 10-20 years from now and see these trees and how much of a difference they’ve made.”

Delaney also studied the impacts of various chemicals on the environment, particularly arsenic. The chemical is naturally found in soils but in large quantities it could be detrimental to humans. His work identified trace amounts of arsenic in soils near an old arsenic-dumping site from the 1930s on Perham’s fairgrounds.

Commissioner Merriam said youth involvement is an important tool in safeguarding our natural resources.

“The impact one person can have on his or her community is tremendous,” Merriam said of Delaney’s work. “He did more than help beautify his community, his actions also encouraged and advocated involvement by others to help protect those natural areas.”

Delaney will graduate from Perham High School next spring. He plans to attend college the following fall.

The DNR Commissioner’s Youth Award is given annually to a FFA member who has demonstrated initiative, leadership, creativity and achievement in the conservation and wise use of natural and agricultural resources.

Delaney’s parents are William and Denise Delaney of Perham. His chapter advisors are Arnold Rethemeier, Diane Sazama and William Delaney. Gary received all four first-place votes from the judges. His older brother, Greg, won the award in 2000.




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