I traveled to Tucson, Arizona from August 8th to August 12th in order to attend the 14th annual Udall Foundation Scholarship Orientation. Over a span of 4 days, 81 students from different universities gathered to discuss the environmental problems we face today. Sophomores and juniors studying anything from chemical engineering to environmental science, community planning to Native American health tackled real cases of environmental injustice, working together to formulate plans in order to mitigate the effects of human impact on the environment.
We met with leaders of industries such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, as well as members of the Udall family. Together, the scholars, foundation members, and industry leaders assembled to understand the complexities of environmental issues. While the formal take home message of the orientation was a simulation of a hearing on the important issues of hydroelectric power dam removal and impact, the most important thing that I took from the orientation was the ideas that were passed from one scholar to the next. True to the Foundation’s namesake, the students chosen for the award have demonstrated their drive to respond to the urgency of many environmental issues, representing the values exhibited by Morris and Stuart Udall.
In their home universities, these students have taken it upon themselves to better their schools, communities, and themselves. From organizing annual recycling programs, which gross over $200,000 and recycle materials from student housing after the year has ended to running their own organic farm and restaurants. Some scholars are working on building houses out of sustainable materials while other scholars are traveling across the world to aide in conservation efforts of endangered species. Through my experiences, I will never forget what I learned from the other scholars and I intend to bring these lessons back to Drexel’s campus.
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The Udall Scholarship awards 50 scholarships of up to $5000 and 50 honorable mentions to sophomore and junior level college students committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. The Udall Foundation seeks future leaders across a wide spectrum of environmental fields, including policy, engineering, science, education, urban planning and renewal, business, health, justice, and economics. Find out more at the Udall scholarship website.
For more information email Cindy Schaarschmidt (firstname.lastname@example.org), Asst. Director of the Fellowships Office.