Cooper Fisher, a 2013 Butte High graduate and valedictorian of his class, wants to leave his mark on his hometown at an early age, by changing attitudes, focusing on the future, and promoting the good things the town has to offer.
He's since graduated from Montana Tech, where he studied business information technology, marketing and management, and is employed by the Butte Local Development Corporation.
Fisher is using those skills in tangible ways, according to Jocelyn Dodge, recreational forester for the U.S. Forest Service, Butte district, who nominated him for this honor.
Since he began an internship with the Butte Chamber of Commerce in 2015, Fisher has played a major role in promoting Butte as a destination spot for business development and recreation, Dodge wrote in a nominating petition.
He's tech and social media savvy, and uses those skills in marketing campaigns and programs to enhance Butte's image, like Butte.Elevated, VisitMT.com, VisitButteMontana Facebook campaign, and others.
"In 2016 Cooper proposed and instituted the Selfie Spot Campaign at 26 various locations around Butte resulting in thousands of selfie posts," Dodge wrote.
Fisher does what he does with the best of intentions.
"It goes back to trying to make our community a better place," he said.
"That's what stopped me from going into the private sector. To leave a legacy and know that every day when I go to work, I'm not focusing on making money or driving sales. Instead, I'm trying to make Butte the best community in the state, or in the country."
Another program Fisher helped advance revolved around a new water treatment plant in Basin Creek, he said — one of the most innovative systems in the United States for delivering clean water.
"We have a PhD in H20" became a slogan that helped assuage contamination concerns.
"It really changed people's perception and their opinions on the water quality in Butte," he said.
At at recent track meet, Fisher overheard people saying they'd need to leave to buy bottled water.
"We don't have to do that, don't you know we have the cleanest water now?" came the reply.
"They were proud that they had clean water," Fisher said. "I'm proud of it."
"When you start to see the change, it fills you with so much pride and happiness and joy," Fisher said.
His biggest challenge may also be his greatest asset, but Fisher says his youth keeps him from being taken seriously at times.
In a group of seasoned business and community leaders, "it can be really intimidating," he says.
"But if you choose to have confidence in yourself — I choose to look at all those leaders as mentors and guides, and that's what helped me overcome that obstacle, to be proud of who you are and what you do, and to use your voice."
Fisher says he draws satisfaction from being able to make a difference. "There are weeks when I put it 80 hours a week, work wise, and at the end of the day I know all that is going to a great cause, to make our community better."