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Fifth-grader gains nomination for national Arbor Day award

At age 10, Jim Johanneck wanted to share a love for the outdoors and trees.

Now his efforts to spearhead planting hundreds of trees in Baxter and his desire to show accomplishments do not have an age limit is getting national attention.

Jim was nominated to receive a 2014 Arbor Day Foundation Award. The national awards competition “recognizes individuals and groups making important contributions to tree planting, conservation, stewardship or education at a local, national or international level.”

Award winners will be recognized April 26 at an Arbor Day Awards ceremony in Nebraska City, Neb.

This past spring, Jim initiated and organized a volunteer effort to plant 400 trees in Baxter’s Whipple Beach recreation area. Jim recruited volunteers and corporate sponsors. He worked with government officials to make it all happen. Jim said he wanted others to experience the same good feeling he had after doing something for the future by planting a tree today. Jim’s mom, Malinda, made sloppy Joes to feed volunteers. Jim worked alongside the others planting trees on a hot and humid spring day.

The effort helped replant an area where drought-weakened trees around Whipple Beach were decimated by the two-lined chestnut borer. Jim’s tree-planting idea grew from an Earth Day school project. Jim, now 11, is a fifth-grader in Pequot Lakes.

“I thought it would be fun,” Jim said of the event. “I like to be outside and share the experience with other kids throughout the area and teach them. No matter the age you can stand up and do whatever you want.”

For more information on the awards, go to

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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