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Environmental Stewardship Award

Funded by
5 winners, $3,000 each
Application Deadline
Apr 20, 2024
Winners Announced
May 20, 2024
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Field of Study:
Environmental science or a related field
High school senior (3.0) or Undergraduate (2.8)
Education Level:
High school senior or 2 or 4 year undergraduate student

Climate change and environmental damage are both very serious problems in our world today that must be addressed.

Today’s students are the future of the environmental field and will bring about the positive changes that are needed to protect the earth and create a healthier planet that will be a safe home for generations to come.

This scholarship seeks to support students who are recycling, sustainability, or climate change focused so they can complete their degrees and make an impact through their careers.

Any graduating senior in high school with at least a 3.0 GPA or a two or four year undergraduate student with at least a 2.8 GPA who is pursuing a field that focuses on the environment may apply for this scholarship. However, applicants residing in Dauphin County or Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, may receive preference.

To apply, explain in a few paragraphs why recycling, or sustainability, or action against climate change is urgently needed and how you might contribute in one of those areas in the future. If you live in Dauphin County or Lancaster County PA, please note this in your essay as well.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Passion
Published January 2, 2024
Essay Topic

In a short essay, discuss the need for mandatory recycling, or sustainability, or global action against climate change, considering the consequences of inaction, the importance of international cooperation, and the role of individuals in building a sustainable future.

200–300 words

Winning Applications

William Flanagan
Central Dauphin High SchoolHARRISBURG, PA
As time progresses, the detrimental effects of climate change are continuing to affect humanity at an alarming rate. Sea levels are rising, air pollution is increasing, species are going extinct, and the fossil fuels that humans burn for energy are eventually going to be expended. This is not a time to reject the idea of climate change and continue down a path of inaction. In most instances, the reason for global inaction is a resistance against lifestyle changes. People do not want to make the changes necessary to combat climate change, and many people believe that their individual actions will not make a difference. Recycling takes too much time and effort, converting to renewable energy is too difficult and expensive, and tuning the lights off when leaving a room is pointless. This way of thinking is extremely flawed and is the reason why environmental trends are continuing on their current trajectory. The truth is that each individual action is meaningful, and a combined effort across the globe will lead to reduced emissions and a decrease in pollution. However, individual action has a limit to the impact it can make on climate change. In order to make great advancements towards a better future, there will need to be international cooperation. This requires the government and international committees to pass legislation that puts restrictions on the fossil fuel industry. While this seems like a simple solution, the reason why these restrictions have not been implemented in the past is because of money. The world as a whole needs to prioritize the health of the planet and its inhabitants over financial incentives. Until this is achieved, conditions are only going to worsen, and future generations may never get to experience the beauty of our planet.
Mya Grove
Pennsylvania State University-Main CampusColumbia, PA
Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions worsen environmental aspects and contribute to climate change. In fact, agribusiness is one of the main human causes of excess emissions. Consumers and producers struggle to find ways to make sustainable agriculture a part of their everyday lives, so population growth and consumer awareness contribute to sustainable agriculture and limit the risk of food insecurity, profit loss, and excess emissions. Consumers around the world are feeling the effects of unsustainable agriculture. These emissions inflate climate change and make it hard to farm in certain areas. Due to unfit farming conditions or a reduced amount of space for the crops needed, farmers are forced to deforest. This is very concerning to the consumer because it is aiding in climate change; however, it is also depleting the risk of food insecurity because farmers are able to produce crops in greater quantities. More farms mean more water depletion, poorer irrigation systems, and more use of pesticides, which can pollute waterways. The effects of pollution originating from the agricultural industry can be at least lessened. There are many ways to go about changing to more sustainable practices. The fight between demand and sustainability is continuous. However, people still find ways of farming that are better for the environment and beneficial to the economy. Though it is hard to use certain practices most of the time, these practices are better for the environment and get the job done more efficiently. In society, population growth is detrimental to people in the agricultural industry, so they must work around problems that pop up when farming to prevent the risk of food insecurity. And now it is important for people in agribusiness and consumers to work around food insecurity while being able to prevent excess emissions and profit loss.
Lily Jin
Wellesley High SchoolWellesley, MA
This past year was challenging for my family. Last spring, my dad was diagnosed with rectal cancer. Even while undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy, he continued to work—as the sole breadwinner, my dad could not afford to lose his job. As family expenses rose to cover medical costs, the burden of paying for a college education grew ever larger. I began taking on jobs, spending hours teaching swim lessons, tutoring students, and babysitting. I also began seeing waste and overconsumption everywhere: in trash bins of half-eaten lunches, in impulsive clicks on “Buy” for glossy products seldom used, in empty houses and dusty town traffic. For me, financial struggles illuminated the reality of consumerism’s tangible environmental impact. Working with other students across school and town, I worked to spread recognition of our excessivities. We launched clothing swaps, presented plastic-repurposing projects, and promoted sustainable lifestyle alternatives to a growing audience. We improved recycling at our school, collecting and recycling over 2000 plastic cups and bottles. We revived our cafeteria's composting program, rallying to get volunteers to monitor. We sought to plant the seeds of environmental consciousness and watched our commitment to waste reduction grow. The climate action movement lies in the hands of the individual, the quiet leaders of day-to-day life, people who aren’t afraid to do things differently for a cause bigger than themselves. Whether it's riding a bike to school, purchasing less clothes, or buying fewer single-use plastics, we can make choices. We are the consumers, the polluters, the culprits; yet we are also the change-makers. In altering our habits, we can tilt our lives closer toward sustainability, toward a deeper consciousness. For me, it took facing financial constraints to take action. I hope for others, it will be knowing that our world—and futures—will become buried under waste if we don't.
Alexandra Crilley
University of Michigan-Ann ArborAnn Arbor, MI
The climate crisis is upon us, and with it comes the existential question of how to power our future. In order to combat climate change — to prevent global average temperatures from reaching the point at which the negative impacts are completely irreversible — it is vital that swift and transformative mitigation and adaptation initiatives are enacted across all scales. According to the recent data from the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, released in 2023, we have only a few years left to eliminate carbon emissions in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees celsius. Among academics and activists alike, clean energy has become widely accepted as a necessary response to climate change. By shifting away from the fossil fuel sources of coal, oil, and gas, replacing them with renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower, we have a powerful opportunity to decarbonize our energy systems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the long run. Corporations cannot be allowed to continue burning fossil fuels — endangering human and ecological health, putting our planetary systems in peril. The extractive and polluting nature of this industry is the antithesis to sustainability; action must be taken to hold these entities accountable. Measures must also be in place to ensure that no one is left behind in our just transition to clean energy, as the effects of climate change have been far from equally distributed. The communities who contribute the least are often hit the worst by the impacts. Climate justice is social, economic, and political justice on all fronts. It is racial justice, it is gender equality, and it cannot be achieved without addressing the complex systems of oppression in our society. Every voice matters, and now is the time to speak up for the planet and all of its people.
Hayleigh Kapp
Bloomsburg University of PennsylvaniaMyerstown, PA
At Bloomsburg University every day I see students and professors using plastic water bottles, instead of reusable water bottles. Some people that I know use multiple plastic water bottles every day, instead of investing in a reusable water bottle that can last for years. Unfortunately, this is a major problem in the United States, where generally clean drinking water is available and water bottles can be filled up at work or school more easily. According to Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, this equates to about 13 bottles per month for every person in the U.S. By buying a reusable water bottle 156 plastic water bottles could be saved annually. This is the problem for many single-use plastics in the United States. Globally, at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. All of this could be minimized or prevented if mandated recycling were put into place in the United States, and in other countries that have the infrastructure to do so. There are consequences to our actions of either, not knowing about other single-use plastics or not caring enough to use them. Our environment suffers from our actions. Plastic pollution is a huge issue, and even more so microplastics are a big issue. By mandating recycling and educating about the consequences of our actions a change can be made and we can help to build sustainability in the United States, and this can be done through people like myself who care enough to educate and speak out to make a difference.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 20, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 20, 2024.

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