Sometimes difficulty breeds compassion. Perhaps that's one of the reasons Avery Trout is so determined to care for other people.

Years ago, the Pine River-Backus High School senior experienced an uncomfortable family challenge. Dealing with that challenge wasn't always easy.


" I talk to a lot of people about things because I've experienced a lot of things. "

— Avery Trout.


"A lot of students weren't very helpful," Trout said.

If you ask her, she thinks those experiences helped her to be more helpful for others going through hard times.

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"I talk to a lot of people about things because I've experienced a lot of things," Trout said. "People ask me questions about how I handle situations, or there have been a couple times where I've sat in a room with another student to talk for the whole hour during online classes and things."

Trout is one of four area high school seniors recognized as a Student of Character, or students in the region who are cited for their quiet leadership, perseverance and dedication to their community, school and fellow students. Donations from local businesses, organizations and individuals make it possible for each student to receive a scholarship.

Pine River-Backus, Pequot Lakes students named Students of Character

Trout's attitude should serve her well as she works toward becoming a nurse. She said her mother's work in child care and a cousin's brain cancer diagnosis gave her an idea that she might like to work in a caregiving field.

She's already well on her way. Before she attends Bemidji State University, she will already be a certified nursing assistant with an associate of arts degree and some experience working in the field. She currently works at Station 371 in Pine River, but before the COVID-19 pandemic she worked with the Good Samaritan Society.

"I loved that," Trout said. "Seeing the smiles on the residents' faces when you walk in the door and how excited they are to talk to you."

It was there that she was trained and certified as a CNA. She sought the job to make sure the nursing field would be right for her.

"I thought I should just get a job there to see if I like it," Trout said. "I wouldn't want to go to college and find out I didn't like nursing."

Trout grew up in Pine River and has attended PR-B Schools since kindergarten. The area allowed Trout and her two sisters to indulge in their creative and outdoor hobbies. She's always been fairly independent, though she is close to her siblings. She incorporated that independence into activities she could do by herself. She likes painting and other art. She bow hunts and she's on PR-B's trap shooting team.

"I've been on the team since seventh grade," Trout said.

She's excelled at those hobbies, including trap shooting.

"I got a perfect 25 before (in eighth grade) and I got a first-place conference award medal (two seasons ago)," Trout said. "It's very individual and mentally hard on yourself. If you miss one, it's up to you to get the next one. It's difficult. I like it better than other sports because you don't have to rely on everyone else, but you're with the people on the line."

She also won third place in an art contest.

In spite of her independence, her teachers couldn't help but note Trout's resilience and her ability to use her past experiences to help others. That's what got her nominated to Sourcewell's annual Students of Character program. The nomination read:

"Avery has a maturity and sense of empathy that are rare for her age. She’s experienced many challenges in the past few years – challenges that no student should have to deal with, ever. She is a gentle leader, fiercely loyal, and level headed. She recognizes the most important details in life and thrives by helping others. Avery plans to attend Bemidji State University and pursue a career in nursing."

Trout will join fellow PR-B student Malachi Wipper and other students from the region virtually Wednesday, April 14, for the annual celebration. She said Sourcewell has already sent her a package that she is not to open until instructed during the event.

"I was kind of shocked, to be honest," Trout said. "I didn't know much about it, but once I did it was really nice of them. Melanie (Lindquist) and Miss (Kristin) Lindholm have been big role models for me. They have always been there for me, so that was nice of them."

After reading about past honorees, Trout is somewhat disappointed that this year's event is virtual instead of having the traditional banquet, but she's still excited. She and her mother are thinking of ways to make the celebration special at home.

"It kind of stinks because it was a big dinner," Trout said. "My mom says maybe we'll get some ice cream or something."

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.