Scholarships awarded by Friends of Blackwater

Special to Dorchester Banner/Friends of Blackwater From left: Olivia Gulledge, Erika Koontz, FOB President Rick Abend, Suzanne Sullivan, Kathryn Hutcheson.

Special to Dorchester Banner/Friends of Blackwater
From left: Olivia Gulledge, Erika Koontz, FOB President Rick Abend, Suzanne Sullivan, Kathryn Hutcheson.


CAMBRIDGE — The Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (FOB) announces the winners of the Friends 2016 Environmental Sciences Academic Scholarships. This year the FOB awarded scholarships to four outstanding Maryland University students majoring in environmental studies fields.

Erika Koontz of Woodbine and Suzanne Sullivan of Cambridge, each received $3,000 scholarships to further their studies at Washington College and Salisbury University respectively. Miss Koontz, majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Chesapeake Bay Regional Studies is looking forward to accomplishing her goals by working with a local nonprofit organization or an environmental consulting agency. Miss Sullivan, working with the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy as Education and Volunteer Coordinator is pursuing a Masters in Teaching Degree from Salisbury University and plans to put her skills to use as an environmental educator to promote better teaching practices in Science.

Olivia Gulledge of Crofton and Kathryn Hutcheson of Catonsville, won scholarships of $2,000 and $1,000 respectively. Now a graduate student at Wesley College, Ms. Gulledge is looking forward to a future career in the field of environmental remediation, analyzing methods to mitigate human destruction of the environment, focusing on rising sea levels and the loss of coastal forests. Working on a degree in Environmental Science & Policy at the University of Maryland at College Park, Kathryn Hutcheson, following a service trip to Honduras plans to enter the Peace Corps after graduation, eventually earn a law degree and work alongside IGOs and NGOs working to find global solutions through international cooperation.

In keeping with the FOB mission to promote the preservation, awareness, and appreciation of our environment, and to celebrate the organization’s 25th Anniversary supporting Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, in 2012 the Friends established annual scholarships of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000. These scholarships are made available to all Maryland resident students meeting scholarship requirements listed on the Friends of Blackwater Environmental Studies Scholarship page: http://www.friendsofblackwater.org/scholarship.html

These annual scholarships are but one example of FOB support for environmental stewardship. Over the past 26 years, the Friends group has worked to increase public awareness and support for Blackwater NWR, contributing to numerous projects at the refuge. Included among these are the renovation of the Visitor Center and procurement of displays, assisting in the creation and maintenance of both land and canoe/kayak trails, construction of an environmental education building, and working in conjunction with the National Aquarium in Baltimore on marsh restoration at Barren Island in the Chesapeake Bay as well as the current improvements to refuge impoundment pools for the benefit of migratory ducks.

FOB volunteers and Blackwater Refuge staff have also recently established an environmental education program with local schools using our new environmental education building on refuge property near the Wildlife Drive. Every year, 4th & 6th grade students spend time at Blackwater participating in hands-on environmental science activities. In conjunction with the recent inauguration of annual academic scholarships, these two programs are the latest examples reflecting the commitment of the Friends of Blackwater to providing environmental education opportunities for local students at all levels, well into the future.

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