Enjoying the outdoors, from sports to ‘slow food’
WAUSAU It’s safe to say Kelsi Anderson likes the fresh air.

The senior at Wausau East High School is involved in the varsity sports of Nordic skiing, soccer and cross country, and outside of school the 17-year-old enjoys backpacking and canoeing.

But Kelsi also excels within the confines of the classroom.
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Kelsi Anderson

Age: 17
Residence: Wausau
School: Wausau East High School
Parents: Erik and Margaret Anderson
College Plans: Considering four colleges, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Washington, Colorado College, and Lewis and Clark in Portland, Ore.
Hobbies: Backpacking, canoeing, ceramics

She’s enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program, one of the most rigorous high school academic curriculums in the country, according to Wausau East Principal Brad Peck. The senior has earned three academic letters, is a member of the school’s National Honor Society and has been awarded Academic All-State honors as an athlete.

Peck said Kelsi leads by example, no matter the sport, club or volunteer activity in which she’s involved.

“She possesses the unique ability to inspire confidence in those around her by her projection of authority, enthusiasm and self-confidence,” Peck said.

Kelsi put that enthusiasm and confidence to the test last summer by completing a 30-day National Outdoor Leadership School course in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.

“I was really nervous about doing it,” Kelsi said. “It was a month in the back country, mountaineering. I think completing that course was one of my proudest moments because I wasn’t quite sure I was going to make it, but after 30 days it felt pretty good.”

She said one of the hardest parts of the course — the same course her dad took when he was younger — was being with the same 11 people for 30 days straight.

“That was also one of the best things about it,” Kelsi said. “We became really close. Learning to compromise, learning to work together in stressful situations was difficult but also rewarding.”

Kelsi now lives in Wausau, but before that lived in a rural area in the town of Maine. There she said cornfields were her hide-and-seek grounds, school trips were taken to the sprawling Van Der Geest Farm, and a neighbor grew organic vegetables and shared them with the neighborhood.

It’s a background that led Kelsi to become involved in the slow-food movement, an alternative to fast food whose principles are based on the interconnected principles of good, clean and fair.

Kelsi said schools can play a significant role in fostering the connection between local farms and the community.

“A lot of the food we’re eating in schools, some of it is great, but there’s opportunities for students to become more connected with the farmers in our own community,” Kelsi said. “So (it’s important to establish) connections between farms sponsoring local schools and students becoming aware about where their food is coming from, especially around Wausau.”

Kelsi volunteers for the Farm to Fork dinner program, Susan G. Komen races and Covenant Point Bible Camp. She also is a youth Nordic ski coach for the Wausau Night Gliders and was selected to be a Uthrotar by the Rotary Club of Wausau.

She has narrowed her list of potential colleges to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Washington, Colorado College, and Lewis and Clark in Portland, Ore.

Her long-range plans still are up in the air. But that’s not for lack of ideas.

“My problem is not that I don’t think anything would be interesting,” Kelsi said. “It’s that I’m excited by too many options. I hear about a new career opportunity and I’m like, ‘Oh, that would be cool to do.’”

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