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Burns receives state Prudential recognition

Hannah Burns is shown in the fitness park she helped create by organizing and fundraising for its creation. Her work on the project has earned her a Prudential award. Photo courtesy Kim Burns.

Hannah Burns loves seeing people use the fitness park located near Hudson's Lakefront Park. Just installed in November, the park was Burns' special project. Last month, she stopped by a Hudson School Board meeting to talk about her project and the award she's received because of it.

Burns earned a Prudential Distinguished Finalist bronze award for the state of Wisconsin, and also won on a local level. In addition, Burns received a Presidential volunteer award, according to her mom, Kim Burns.

When she started the project, Hannah had no idea all this would happen.

"It was just this idea at first and it's just kind of really cool to see the whole process unfold," Hannah said in an interview later. "It's actually done now, and people use it. I'll like run past the park and I'll see people using it."

Hannah got the idea for the park after learning from a study done by the hospital that obesity is a large concern in the Hudson community and St. Croix County.

"That was kind of like startling to me," Hannah said.

At the time her grandpa was very ill, dealing with pulmonary fibrosis.

Hannah said she went biking through a park in Eau Claire.

"There was this newly-installed fitness park," she said. "We thought that'd be a very cool thing for Hudson to have and something that would really impact and benefit the community as a whole I guess."

It was a big project, but Hannah has always enjoyed a challenge, Kim said.

"I love challenges and I thought this would be something that would be really cool to have in our community," Hannah said. "So then I approached city council."

Over the course of the next year and a half, Hannah worked with the Parks Board to determine a location and other necessary details. She also raised around $33,000 for park equipment.

She faced a few challenges getting the park installed. Right before the concrete was poured, a concerned citizen wrote the city with concerns about runoff, as the park is so close to the river.

The city planner and Parks Board immediately began researching and working with the Department of Natural Resources to make sure the park could go in.

It was installed in November.

Kim learned about the Prudential award on Facebook.

Hannah talked to Hudson High School Principal Peg Shoemaker, who nominated her for the award.

Hannah and Kim said the state can give out one silver Prudential award for high schoolers and two bronze awards each year.

Hannah was one of the two bronze distinguished finalists.

She's also working to get her Girl Scout Gold Award. She hopes to use a project related to the park to earn her it.

Kim's pride in her daughter is evident.

"She is one that looks at challenges head-on," said Kim.

She also said it was nice to see all the support Hannah received from the community.

"We're a small, close-knit community and they love to see our youth involved," Kim said. "When you see somebody like Hannah who wants to tackle a project like this, that just makes everybody really proud of our community and our youth in the community."

Hannah received letters from Mayor Rich O'Connor, Gov. Scott Walker, and the president as well.

"It's really quite an honor," Kim said.

Hannah aspires to enter the Air Force when she graduates, and is interested in attending the

Air Force Academy.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(715) 426-1048
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