The Peace River Audubon Society
Scholarship for Environmental Studies
APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 15, 2023
The purpose of this award program is to encourage students from the greater Charlotte Harbor watershed region (Charlotte, DeSoto, Polk, Sarasota, Manatee, Lee, and Hardee Counties)* to pursue a degree in a field of study related to the environment. College students with professional goals to pursue conservation biology, wildlife conservation, zoology, or environmental education are invited to apply for the Peace River Audubon Society Scholarship for Environmental Studies. Up to two highly qualified college students will be awarded $1,000 each. Funds may be used for the educational institution’s tuition, books, supplies and equipment, or technical materials.
We Could Use Your Help
PRAS believes that recognition for excellence is vital to fostering a new generation of environmental stewards. To encourage students from Charlotte and Desoto Counties to pursue a degree in environmental studies, the PRAS Scholarship for Environmental Education was established in 2008, thanks to a generous donation from LaDonna Kennedy who, upon her passing, donated $5,000. Thanks to the generosity of donations from several members and others accumulated through PRAS’s yearly Bird-a-thon, the fund has gradually grown. However, without additional funds, the award amount and frequency will be limited. It is our hope that this fund can continue to grow, thereby allowing for continued and additional scholarships. Please consider donating now and, like Ms. Kennedy, leaving a legacy by amending your will to include the PRAS Scholarship Fund. Your gift will be enjoyed in our community by generations to come.
If you would like to help the Peace River Audubon Society’s effort to promote the next generation of ecological and conservation leaders by making a donation to our Scholarship Fund, please contact our Treasurer, Sandy Artman at (717) 880-3341 or Email Treasurer or click on the “Donate” button below.
To be eligible for the Peace River Audubon Society Scholarship for Environmental Studies, applicants must meet all of the following criteria.
Graduated from a high school within Charlotte, DeSoto, Polk, Sarasota, Manatee, Lee, or Hardee County, FL;
Pursuing a university degree pertaining to environmental studies;
Junior or Senior status in an accredited 4-year institution;
Currently enrolled full-time (12 credit hours or more);
A minimum GPA of 3.0 (of 4..0); and
Have not previously received this scholarship.
APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 15, 2023
Complete applications and all recommendation letters must be received by the deadline. Please email all materials combined into a single PDF to: scholarship1@PeaceRiverAudubon.org except reference letters which may be sent under separate cover directly by reference. Address questions to the same email address.
*Preference will be given to students from the Peace River Audubon Society focal counties (Charlotte, DeSoto) but due to the limited number of eligible students from these counties students from surrounding counties (Polk, Sarasota, Manatee, Lee, Hardee) are encouraged to apply.
2023 Scholarship Awardee
Helena Wood-Barron is a graduate of Sarasota Highschool. She attended New College of Florida where she double majored in Animal Well Being and Conservation and Marine Biology, taking many biology and conservation related courses. These included Biology of Sharks, Skates and Rays, where she tagged sharks and assisted in an analysis of Florida manatee mortality events by analyzing drone footage to categorize body condition. She has worked at Sarasota Jungle Gardens and Mote Marine’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital, assisting in the daily care of sick and injured sea turtles and assisted in a bottlenose dolphin echolocation research study. During an apprenticeship with the Crocodile Research Coalition in Belize, she conducted population surveys and measured and tagged wild crocodiles. This led to a senior thesis research project studying crocodile vocalizations, where she traveled back to Belize to catch and record calls made by crocodiles to compare differences between calls made by cooccurring crocodilian species. Upon graduation, Ms. Wood-Barron hopes to work towards a master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation to help fulfill her dream of becoming a conservation biologist.
2020 Scholarship Awardee
Alexis Chavez is from Wauchula, is a graduate of Hardee Senior High School, and attended Florida State University where they majored in Environmental Science and Policy and minored in Public Administration. While at FSU, Mx. Chavez was a Sustainability Fellow and was selected for the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program where they assisted three professors, including a biostatistician, in research data analysis. They tracked northern bobwhites using radio telemetry and has worked as a Gopher Tortoise Program intern and Bear Management intern with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They were selected to attend a highly competitive National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where they will attend graduate school with hopes to earn a master’s degree in their School of Natural Resources looking at the resilience of agricultural ecosystems with an emphasis on managing water resources.
2019 Scholarship Awardee
Adrian Dougherty is from Ft. Myers and attended the University of Florida, majoring in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and minoring in International Studies and Spanish. At UF they were active in the Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society and helped a professor organize and analyze camera trap data from the Pakke Tiger Reserve from India. They volunteered to help remove invasive plants from Gainesville’s public spaces and with Kids in the Woods, which helped middle school students conduct outdoor research to get them passionate about natural resources and the outdoors. They interned with the Alachua Audubon Society where they helped develop the area’s first permanent bird banding station and built and monitored kestrel boxes, and participated in multiple Christmas Bird Counts in Lee County. Adrian is clearly passionate about wildlife and the environment and says they are “especially connected and committed to wetland ecology and restoration” and that “the types of challenges facing the Caloosahatchee River and its estuary are exactly the type of challenges I want to dedicate my life to preventing and addressing”.
2019 Scholarship Awardee
Monica Schul is from Bonita Springs and attended the University of Florida, double majoring in Marine Science and Biotechnology. Their interests in Marine Biology began in high school where they participated in beach clean-ups, volunteered with a shark biologist in Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and participated in a Cambridge University course where they presented a review paper on declining coral reef conditions to more than 200 people. At UF Monica worked with a professor who was investigating the relationship between the age and growth of exploited fish, helped another looking at marine sediment samples to understand how mollusks influence benthic communities, and another researching the role of the microbiome of corals and macroalgae to understand the relationship between coral reef stressors and coral performance. They also studied abroad in Mexico where they helped develop and implement a research project which they later presented at the UF Undergraduate Research Symposium. Mx. Schul intends to earn a Ph.D. and conduct their own research using molecular and genomic techniques which they hope will provide a better understanding of marine ecosystems and enhance marine conservation.
2017 Scholarship Awardee
Felecia Nudo is from Ft. Myers and attended Florida Gulf Coast University. In addition to being highly intelligent and motivated, their clearly focused career goals in environmental education made them stand out among applicants. Combined with their strong extra-curricular experiences, strong reference letters, and demonstrated ability to produce results, including a children’s book about gopher tortoises, PRAS believes they are an excellent and deserving awardee.
2017 Scholarship Awardee
Gabriella Placido is from Ft. Myers and attended the University of Florida, majoring in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. In addition to being strong academically, Gabby’s credentials included membership in the UF student chapter of the Wildlife Society and a biodiversity intern with the UF Office of Sustainability. A project with which they were involved, worked on trying to reduce bird collisions with campus building windows, especially those located along wooded areas of campus. Thanks to Gabby’s efforts, supported by Dr. Mark Hostetler, some buildings which often encounter bird strikes have now installed vertical wires on windows.
2014 Scholarship Awardee
Jeremy Toms, is a graduate of Charlotte High School and attended the University of Florida where they majored in Environmental Engineering Sciences as part of a combined Bachelors of Science and Master of Engineering in Ecological Engineering degree program. At UF, Mx. Toms was also an intern with the Office of Sustainability working to educate and promote sustainability on campus and is assisting a professor to determine where improvements on waste reduction and landfill diversion could be made within the university. In the long-term they are working so that “engineering solutions, especially those concerning the environment, take more holistic approaches to solving problems that best benefit society while also keeping the natural world that we depend on intact”.
2013 Scholarship Awardee
Jessica Buchy is a graduate of Desoto County High and the University of Central Florida where they majored in Biology. Mx. Buchy describes themself as an “up and coming wildlife veterinarian and researcher”. Among their many accomplishments was an internship at the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Vet Hospital, assisting at UCF on disease research in hatchling logger head sea turtles, volunteering in Orlando for an animal hospital and wildlife rehabilitation center, and volunteering in India at the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust where they helped track King Cobras! Mx. Buchy is also a 2005 recipient of the Chamber of Commerce Award for Community Service in DeSoto County.
2013 Scholarship Awardee
Chase Schulte is a graduate of Charlotte High School and attended the University of Florida where they double majored in Environmental Science and Sustainability & the Built Environment. They believe that by combining these degrees they will be better able to “solve pressing environmental issues in Florida as well as worldwide.” At UF Mx. Schulte was active in communicating the need for decision-making that preserves our natural resources including an internship with the UF Office of Sustainability, volunteering for the Student Government agency Gators Going Green, and was a recipient of the UF University Scholars Program award.