Meet Our 2021 Scholarship recipients
Benjamin Butcher ~ DURAND, MICHIGAN
Michigan State University | Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Education
Ben is currently a senior at Michigan State University (MSU) and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education. At MSU, he serves as the president of the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education Club and as a member of the Agronomy and Dairy Club.
Ben grew up on a small farm around Corunna. His passion for the outdoors was inspired by the time he spent caring for plants and animals on the farm as well as by the great care and consideration his parents and grandparents had for the land. Over the years, Ben has assisted in the production of corn, soybeans, vegetables, honey, hogs, cows, goats, turkeys, chickens, and more. “My time on the farm taught me the value of hard work and left me with a strong appreciation for nature,” he said.
Ben plans to embark on a career as an agriculture science educator in a high school setting. He plans to spend his career teaching students about topics ranging from tree identification to watershed health that require students to spend quality time exploring the outdoors and our state’s natural resources.
Blake Chosa ~ BARAGA, MICHIGAN
Michigan Technological University | Wildlife Ecology & Management
Blake is entering his fourth year at Michigan Technological University (MTU) where he is majoring in Wildlife Ecology and Management and minoring in Fish Biology. At MTU, Blake is involved in the Wildlife Society Student Chapter and previously served as the organization’s social chair. He is also involved with the Fishing Club. Since starting his studies at MTU, Blake has worked for Baraga State Park and the Keweenaw Invasive Species Management AreaProject, and has also served as a wildlife technician for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
Growing up with an Ojibwe background, Blake spent many years learning from his grandfather, dad, and uncle in Baraga where they would hunt whitetail deer, grouse, and turkey as well as go fishing and spearing for migratory salmon and steelhead in Lake Superior and its tributaries. “I quickly learned the core values from my Ojibwe heritage and developed a strong appreciation and value for Upper Michigan’s natural resources,” he said. “This passion for the outdoors inspired me to pursue a degree in natural resources management.” Blake hopes to work as a wildlife technician, a land manager, or as a conservation officer.
Kyle Kunst ~ GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
Grand Valley State University | Marketing
Kyle is in his junior year at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and is majoring in marketing. He is on the GVSU Fishing Team and regularly competes in collegiate tournaments both in Michigan and around the country. Kyle fishes the College Bass Tour, which is based out of Michigan, as well as at some of the national collegiate Bassmaster events.
Kyle was born and raised in West Michigan and has always loved the outdoors. His grandfather introduced him to fishing at the age of four and he began hunting with his Dad when he was five. “These mentors sparked my interest, which has led me to become a leader in promoting love for the outdoors,” he said.
At the age of 17, Kyle started his own outdoor YouTube channel called “Reel Obsession” which features a variety of hunting and fishing videos. Over the last few years, he’s filmed many videos and has built up a large following. “I’ve been able to share my passion for the outdoors with others through my social media platforms,” he said. “I have also had the privilege of meeting many of my subscribers and have had the chance to help them improve upon their skills.”
Once he completes his marketing degree, Kyle hopes to land a job for a company in the outdoor industry where he can combine his passions.
Maisie Wiler ~ ZEELAND, MICHIGAN
Grand Valley State University | Natural Resources Management
Maisie is currently in her junior year at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Natural Resources Management. At GVSU, she has volunteered her time for research projects that attempt to understand the effects of controlled burning on invasive species. Maisie has also been involved with the Farm Club, serving throughout the last year as its president. She has also practiced and educated students on the principles of sustainable agriculture and sustainable living. This summer, she interned with the National Park Service as an Interpretive Ranger at Mount Rushmore.
Maisie grew up in the Holland area, where she spent much of her childhood visiting local parks and nature centers. She learned to love the wetlands and dunes, and quickly realized that many wild spaces around her were diminishing. This realization grew into a passion to protect wild spaces and other natural wonders from development.
“I believe that the best way to preserve Michigan's outdoor heritage is to forge an emotional connection between people and resources,” she said. “This is why I aspire to be an Interpretive Park Ranger. I want to convince others of the value inherent in Michigan's natural resources, and that they might be inspired by the spirit of stewardship. This is the effect I hope to have on the next generation."
Isabella Zamecki ~ WATERFORD, MICHIGAN
Michigan State University | Zoology
Bella just kicked off her junior year at Michigan State University, where she is majoring in Zoology with a concentration in animal behavior. She is on MSU’s Pre-Veterinary studies track. At MSU, Bella is an active member of the MSU Archery Team and serves as its Internal Communications Chair. She is incredibly active on campus and is a member of the Birding Club, Fisheries and Wildlife Club, and Pre-Vet Club. “I love being a part of all these clubs to learn new things about animals and the outdoors,” she said.
Bella grew up in Oakland County, where she learned to shoot and found her passion for the outdoors. Recently, she started working for Oakland County Parks and Recreation as a USA Archery Level 2 Coach. She also volunteers at a local archery range and works with Oakland County Summer Camps.
Bella was raised loving animals and spends a lot of her time outside hiking, shooting, kayaking, and camping! She also works at a doggy daycare, where she is gaining experience with handling animals. She hopes to attend veterinary school and, one day, have her own large animal practice. Bella also wants to host summer camps to teach kids about animals and what it's like to work in the veterinary field!
Claire Zwiers ~ GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
University of Michigan | Earth & Environmental Science and Ecology, Evolution & Biodiversity
Claire is finishing her last semester at the University of Michigan where she is double majoring in Earth & Environmental Science and Ecology, Evolution & Biodiversity. She has a passion for research and has been researching harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie for the entirety of her undergraduate studies.
In her hometown of Grand Rapids, Claire grew up swimming, camping, hiking, and fishing with her family, often spending more time camping during the summer than at home. She credits her parents and grandparents for inspiring her love for the outdoors. Claire has served her community with her love for the outdoors through leading a local middle school Science Olympiad team to nationals, educating others about sustainability through her work as a Planet Blue Ambassador, and more. She hopes to continue these efforts throughout her future career.
"I have been blessed to grow up respecting and admiring the outdoors," she said. "My desire is to give back to the community, family, and outdoor heritage that has shaped me into the person I am today." After graduating, Claire plans to either attend graduate school or work in a national laboratory with hopes to do research in marine biology and sustainability.