FAQ: Do Friends organizations award scholarships?

Several Friends organizations take great pride in using hard–earned funds for scholarships to encourage young people to pursue careers in conversation.

The Friends of the Prairie Learning Center at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA, is offering its second annual $1,000 scholarship to a senior at Prairie City Monroe High School. As community coordinator for the Friends, Joan Van Gorp says refuge staff helped identify a list of college majors in natural resources. The Friends work through a national organization called Dollars for Scholars (http://scholarshipamerica.org/dfs.php) which matches the Friends contribution and manages all financial transactions with the winning student. The Friends portion of the scholarship may be renewed each year.

The Kilauea Point Natural History Association, HI, is using Facebook for the first time to advertise its Daniel Moriarty Memorial Scholarship, named in memory of a former refuge manager. One or two scholarships of $2 — $3,000 are given each year to students in Hawaii — ideally from Kauai — who have been involved in environmental community service projects.

The Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, WA, provides two $1,000 awards each year to seniors in Pacific County, WA, majoring in conservation or environment fields.

The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, the Friends organization for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, FL, is offering its first permanently endowed scholarship this year, funded by a $50,000 gift from a longtime Friend and volunteer.

This new Jane Werner Environmental Scholarship is one of five separate scholarships managed by the Society this year. The Society will establish a permanent scholarship with a minimum donation of $10,000. The Richard Bailey and Jack & Dolores Clarke Scholarships are funded with one–time donations. A concessionaire at the refuge, Tarpon Bay Explorers, has offered two annual $1,000 scholarships for the past six years. Last year, the Society’s executive director Birgit Vertesch says the caliber of the applicant pool for the Tarpon Bay scholarships was so strong that the Society provided two additional $1,000 awards.

Not only do these scholarships provide valuable funds to students, says Vertesch, but “they also show potential donors about the chance to do something similar for themselves or to honor loved ones. The scholarships also showcase the importance we attach to cultivating the next generation of environmental leaders.”