MISSOULA, Mont.— The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recognized six outstanding student conservation leaders from across the country through its scholarship program by rewarding each of them with a Wildlife Leadership Award (WLA).
“Each of the recipients has shown through their studies and their passion that they want to make a real difference for wildlife and wild landscapes,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “We hope this recognition will provide a stepping stone to help them further their careers.”
The WLA program is unique to the conservation world and is both well-known and highly regarded in academia. It was established to recognize, encourage and promote leadership among future wildlife management professionals. The program awards a $3,000 scholarship to college juniors and seniors chosen for their leadership ability, dedication to wildlife conservation and scholastic achievements. They also receive a one year RMEF membership.
Through 2014, the scholarship program awarded a total of $261,000 to 159 students who represent 57 universities across the United States and Canada. Dozens of recipients pursued careers in wildlife-related fields, and at least four of the recipients eventually became RMEF employees.
“We encourage students of all ages to develop an interest in conservation and wildlife management,” added Henning.
Below is a list of the 2014 Wildlife Leadership Award winners:
A one-time high school dropout, Chelsea Brock maintains a 3.99 GPA studying wildlife management at Eastern Kentucky University. She is the first in her family to attend college and plans to pursue a master’s degree in wildlife or fisheries biology.
Adopted from China, Hannah Clipp maintains a 4.0 GPA in wildlife and fisheries resources at West Virginia University. She is also minoring in conservation ecology, biology and English. Clipp plans to pursue a Ph.D. in wildlife biology and hopes to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or similar agency.
A self-confessed lover of snakes, lizards, frogs and salamanders, Matt Gideon is earning a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife biology at Arkansas Tech University. Already serving as the president of the school’s Herpetology Society, he wants to help kids put down their devices and get outdoors.
Studying animal science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Joseph Grennon hopes to eventually study orangutans and help others learn what needs to be done to protect them. He plans to attend veterinary school after graduation.
After serving in the Army and working as part of the labor force, Shane Kinsey returned to school to study wildlife management at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Among his volunteer efforts, Kinsey assisted the elk herd at Great Smoky Mountains National Park while working as a wildlife technician.
An undergraduate at Oregon State University, Jessica Stewart currently leads a team of volunteers in caring for sick and injured wildlife. She has a passion for birds of prey referring to her on-going studies and work as a “lifelong dream.”
The WLA scholarship fund grew in 2006 thanks to a memorial given by the family of Gerald L. Turpin. It received a further boost in 2013 from the Torstenson Family Endowment. TFE funding is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.
Go here to learn more about the WLA, including how to apply for future consideration.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 200,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.5 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.