For DonorsFor Applicants

Top of the Mountain Memorial Scholarship

2 winners, $5,000 each
Application Deadline
Oct 22, 2023
Winners Announced
Nov 22, 2023
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school senior or undergraduate student
Work, internship, and/or volunteering experience in environmental causes

Conservation and thoughtful stewardship of the environment is of the utmost importance.

Today’s students committed to making a difference in how humans use, see, and care for our environment are crucial in leaving a healthier world for years to come. As pollution and climate change become increasingly dangerous problems, it’s imperative for passionate students to be encouraged to make a difference.

This scholarship aims to support students who are devoted to making a difference and caring for our environment.

Any high school senior or undergraduate student who has work, internship, and/or volunteering experience in environmental causes may apply for this scholarship, but applicants pursuing STEM majors are preferred.

To apply, please tell us how you have been an advocate, influencer, or steward for the environment in your community.

Selection Criteria:
Work, Volunteer, or Personal Experience with nature
Published August 3, 2023
Essay Topic

This scholarship is for individuals who are passionate advocates for nature and stewardship of the environment

  1. Please tell us how you have worked to advocate for the environment.
  2. The Ciocan Family has a motto: "You've reached the top of the mountain. Plant your flag, and leave a brief message." What message would you leave, at the top of the mountain? (max 250 words)
200–300 words

Winning Applications

Brooke Sedar
Wichita State University-Campus of Applied Sciences and TechnologyBel Aire, KS
Our daily decisions affect not only ourselves but also the world around us. I try my best to make decisions that will help keep our planet healthy. Some of these decisions include not eating meat, avoiding single-use plastic, and conserving resources. I am far from perfect but I strive to make smart choices and to educate those around me to do the same. The meat industry contributes negatively to the environment in many ways. Not only is it a leading cause of deforestation but it also is a huge drain on resources and produces high levels of chemical runoff. By removing meat from your diet you dramatically decrease the amount of land, water, and oil needed to put your meal on the table. If more people would cut back on meat or farm their own products it could make a huge impact on the number of resources being used. Single-use plastic is everywhere you look and not in a good way. You can't as much as go for a walk without seeing a piece of trash tumbling by. It litters our streets, lakes, oceans, everything. Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose and is extremely difficult to recycle. Studies show less than 5% of plastic is successfully recycled and the rest is filling our landfills. The best way to fix this is to avoid plastic altogether. In our home, we opt for tap water over bottled, bring reusable bags to the grocery stores (or opt for paper bags if we forget them), always use reusable straws, and do our best to shop for plastic-free products. My sister and I also operate a small Etsy business where we sell soaps and wax melts in fully compostable packaging to help others make these choices too. Cutting down on resources used is really as easy as paying attention. Once you start to pay attention you realize how much waste is around you. To cut down we do the basics, turn off the water when brushing your teeth, don't run the washer until it's full, and turn off the light when leaving the room. Not only has this really helped with our utility bills but it's a super easy way to save resources that anyone can do. These changes may be small and they say one person can't make a difference but I think it just takes finding the right "one person" to tip the scales and finally see positive changes. The most important thing is to speak out and show big businesses we aren't going to stand for these bad practices and that protecting our planet should always come first. The message I would put on my flag at the top of the mountain would be "You did it." It may be short and seem overly simple but it's the best reflection of all the hard work and drive that you have put in to get to this point. You conquered a task you probably felt was impossible several times, completing it is a victory. You did it, and that's amazing.
Kade Jackson
Byron P Steele Ii High SchoolSchertz, TX
1. A ring of viridescent trees tower over a shimmering azure lake, the evening sun casting purple and orange hues over the shimmering ripples of the water below. I watch as the last hints of light disappear over the horizon. In March 2023, I joined community efforts to save this land, a now-defunct golf course, from development into hundreds of apartment units and townhomes. I began speaking at city council meetings and volunteering as a data analyst/graphic designer for the land conservation team, forging new relationships with many community members as I advocated for the natural world. Every time I step outside now, I am greeted by a smiling face; this is the community that has flourished in the face of unsustainable development. My passion for birdwatching proved to be beneficial as I worked to present an ornithological survey to the city council, advocating on behalf of the Chimney Swifts I observed hunting and dwelling on the land. Securing an international birding hotspot designation from eBird for this stretch of land further strengthened our cause. I also wrote and presented an original poem at the following council meeting in an attempt to illustrate the land's significance. Every hour spent working in spreadsheets, writing speeches, and developing maps for proposals propelled me into the next as I kept our ultimate goal in mind. Long summer hours spent going door-to-door to hear every community member’s voice reminded me of why we were fighting in the first place: yes, to conserve land, but to also conserve our home. I have dedicated almost 100 hours to this effort, and I will not stop fighting until my city recognizes the necessity of land conservation. My community feels like home now. My neighbors feel like family. I know I will never stop fighting to preserve natural environments and protect wildlife. As I turn my gaze toward a dual Ecology/Astrophysics degree, conservation will remain at the forefront of my mind. Upon entering college next fall, I will join my school's environmental advocacy and birdwatching groups to further my environmental dedication. I refuse to stand down and let society turn grass into roads, forests into neighborhoods, and lakes into parking lots. Concrete jungles have no place in my world. 2. "One voice can make a difference." I have no memory of where I first heard this quote, but it has become my personal motto. Every time I hear of unsustainable development or the intensifying effects of climate change, I remind myself: if not me, then who? Who will take charge to defend nature? Who will bring to the forefront the many environmental oversights plaguing American policymaking today? I channel my anger at environmental destruction instead into proactivity, for how can I anticipate change if I myself am not campaigning for our society to embrace sustainability? I founded my high school's first-ever birding society with one goal in mind: to help others understand the simple beauty that lies in the soft beat of a hawk's wing, in the swaying path of a falling leaf, or in the flowing ripples of a calm lake. It is this goal that will forever propel me forward, inspiring me to continue fostering not only a love of nature in others but to keep advocating for conservation, giving a voice to that which is unable to speak for itself. I have seen firsthand how one voice can make a difference. It is this quote that inspires me to keep pressing forward, and I would be remiss not to share it with the world as I place it atop my mountain.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Oct 22, 2023. Winners will be announced on Nov 22, 2023.

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