Coon Rapids student receives American Legion Boys State award

With characteristic modesty and quiet pride, Matt Lerdahl accepted the Lee Krough Award Oct. 30.

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Coon Rapids American Legion Post 334 Adjutant Justin Miller, Third Vice Commander John Valley and Boys State Chairman Bruce Sanders pose with Coon Rapids High School senior Matt Lerdahl after presenting him with the Lee Krough Award in recognition of Lerdahl’s “outstanding work” accomplished during Boys State. Photo by Sue Austreng

Coon Rapids American Legion Post 334 Adjutant Justin Miller, Third Vice Commander John Valley and Boys State Chairman Bruce Sanders pose with Coon Rapids High School senior Matt Lerdahl after presenting him with the Lee Krough Award in recognition of Lerdahl’s “outstanding work” accomplished during Boys State. Photo by Sue Austreng

he award is presented in recognition of outstanding work demonstrated by an American Legion Boys State of Minnesota participant.

“I am really honored to receive this. I never expected it. I knew I was first alternate to Boys Nation, but didn’t expect all these people, all this attention,” the Coon Rapids High School senior said after he was presented with the award by the director of Boys State Minnesota and three representatives of Coon Rapids American Legion Post 334.

“He is one of the best silent leaders I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Mike Bredeck, director of Boys State Minnesota. “He’s one outstanding young man and this award acknowledges the great work he did this summer at Boys State. He leads by example, doesn’t ask for a lot of hurrah. He’s just an exceptional young man.”

Minnesota American Legion Boys State is a week-long experience of learning about Minnesota government at the local, county and state levels.

During the 2013 Boys State experience, the 320 participants set up 14 mock cities, elected mayors and city councilmembers, established law and order and participated in the process of city, county and state government.

Each year, Boys State participants ultimately elect representatives to advance to Boys Nation where the young leaders receive an education on the structure and function of federal government.

While Lerdahl did not advance to Boys Nation, he was named first alternate, placing him third among the 320 Minnesota Boys State participants.

Bredeck called Lerdahl “an accomplished young man whose best hidden talent is he’s a silent leader.”

At Coon Rapids High School, Lerdahl practices leadership skills on the athletic field and in the classroom.

Principal Dr. Annette Ziegler spoke of the example Lerdahl sets at the high school.

“Matt is a wonderful student,” she said. “He is a great representative of Coon Rapids whether it’s in sports as an athlete or in the classroom as an academic. He is outstanding.”

As an athlete, Lerdahl wears the Coon Rapids Cardinal uniform on the football field and on the basketball court. He also does some weight training, started the Cardinals’ trap shooting team, serves on the high school’s student council, served two years as captain of the speech team and three times advanced to the state science fair and once to the international science fair level.

Away from school, Lerdahl is an Eagle Scout and he teaches Sunday school and Vacation Bible School at Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids.

Not only that, Lerdahl is mentored at Advanced Arm Dynamics in Maple Grove, working as part of a team fine-tuning electro-magnetic sensors in robotic prosthetics to more closely mimic live arm movement and ability.

Pursuing ambitions after high school graduation, Lerdahl has applied to the U.S. Air Force Academy as well as Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt universities.

“I just really want to serve my country, to do the best I can with who I am. That’s all I want,” said Lerdahl.

American Legion Post 334 Boys State Chairperson Bruce Sanders said he is happy the post was able to sponsor Lerdahl for Minnesota Boys State.

“I am so proud we sponsored Matt for Boys State,” he said. “This is one exceptional young man. He has great things ahead.”

Before returning to his regular school day activities Oct. 30, Lerdahl praised Boys State and expressed his gratitude for a chance to participate.

“Boys State has given so much to me,” he said. “I learned so much in just one week – skills that will stay with me the rest of my life.”

About his hometown and his high school, Lerdahl said, “Coon Rapids produces a lot of great guys that will do great things in the community. I’m just one more example of so many who do so much. I hope I can be a good example for others to follow.”

In addition to a plaque and congratulatory handshakes, Lerdahl received a $200 scholarship as winner of the Boys State Lee Krough Award.

To learn more about Boys State, visit www.MNBoysState.org. For more about Boys Nation, visit www.legion.org/boysnation.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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