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Worthing teen receives award

By Wendy Sweeter

The South Dakota Hall of Fame made its way to Worthing in April for a special presentation.

Miles Beacom with the Hall of Fame was on hand to present Worthing teen Gabi Olson with an Acts of Excellence award. She was nominated for her work in falconry, the hunting of wild animals in their natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey.

Olson got interested in falconry when she was 12 years old. After going through an apprenticeship, she was able to become a licensed falconer and is one of two 17-year-old falconers in the state.

Olson loves birds and says falconry is cool.

“It’s really just the relationship you have with the bird. Working in partnership with it, there’s just something about it. There’s this wild animal that trusts you enough and actually wants to work with you. That’s just cool,” Olson said.

While Olson is currently without a hawk, she would like to catch a Kestrel this spring. The Kestrel is North America’s smallest falcon. They are different from what she has been used to in a Red-tailed Hawk, which catches larger game. A Kestrel would be challenging because they hunt smaller game and it’s a challenge to maintain their weight.

Beacom said the Acts of Excellence awards identify people across the state who are doing great things. What she has done with falconry has opened their eyes on how many people in South Dakota are falconers.

“It was just an incredible accomplishment that we want other people to look at, that here’s a girl at the age of 12 started working on her ability to become a falconer and one of the youngest in the state. She kept that passion and that work ethic to accomplish that and it’s something we’re very proud of,” Beacom said.

Beacom said that any resident can nominate another South Dakotan for Acts of Excellence. They usually award 10-20 individuals each year with the honor.

“What we want to do is to continue to recognize people that have done special things across the state and hopefully that will ignite a fire across the state for other people to do great things and nominate each other so we can continue to recognize these people that are going above and beyond,” Beacom said.

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