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‘Ding’ Darling awards scholarships for environmental studies

By Staff | Jun 19, 2015

At a special after-hours gathering at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on June 11 “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge awarded $14,000 in conservation education scholarships to 12 students from the surrounding five-county area. The awards total was the highest ever in the eight-year history of DDWS’ Environmental Scholarship Program.

“The society is committed to educating today’s youth as conservation stewards of the future,” said DDWS Education Chair Wendy Kindig in a prepared statement. “To that end, we work with various businesses and individuals to provide annual scholarships to award to outstanding students engaged in the study of conservation, wildlife biology, and the environment. A big thank you to our scholarship sponsors for helping us in our mission.”

Eight donors sponsored the 13 scholarships this year. Some sponsors were on hand at the ceremony to present checks to and congratulate the students who were able to attend. Winners include:

n Jake Joers, a Barron Collier High (Naples) graduate entering Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton to study oceanic engineering, won the Richard Bailey Scholarship, named in memory of a longtime refuge volunteer and donated by his family.

n UF senior Alex Lochard from Cape Coral, majoring in environmental engineering, was recipient of the new Mike & Terry Baldwin Scholarship, named for a DDWS board member and his wife, an emeritus board member.

nAlexandra Mackey, a Cape Coral High graduate and sophomore at the University of Florida (UF) studying environmental law, received the Dr. Andrew and Laura Dahlem Scholarship. The Dahlems live part-time on Sanibel Island and were honored with a named scholarship by family members. Mackey also received one of five Tarpon Bay Explorers scholarships (see below).

n Originally from Charlotte County, Brooke Giuliano is enrolled in the master’s program at Duke University (North Carolina) focusing on water management, wetland restoration and mitigation, and aquatic eutrophication. She was awarded the Robert E. Lathrop, Jr., & Margaret McLaughlin Scholarship, named in memoriam for the grandparents of DDWS associate director Sarah Lathrop, whose family donated the scholarship monies.

n From Naples, Carmen Hoyt, a sophomore at Duke working towards a degree in earth and ocean sciences, received the Francine Litofsky Scholarship, in memory of a published nature photographer and active refuge volunteer.

n Jordan Donini from Fort Myers and pursuing a master’s in science from Southeastern Louisiana University; and Alexander Kucherenko, enrolled in the master’s program in biology at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers, each received one of two Mary Lou Schadt Scholarships, named for and sponsored by a longtime refuge volunteer.

Tarpon Bay Explorers Scholarship awarded five scholarships. The other four went to Anthony Bonacolta, a Bishop Verot High (Fort Myers) graduate enrolled to study marine science at the University of Miami; Isabel Gareau, a Naples High graduate who will pursue a degree in anthropology and botany from the University of California, Berkeley; Layne Marshall from Fort Myers and a junior at UF majoring in forest resources and conservation; and Katie Thorp, a recent Fort Myers High graduate who will study chemical engineering at UF. Wendy Schnapp presented the awards as co-owner of Tarpon Bay Explorers, which started with the DDWS scholarship program in 2007.

The Jane Werner Environmental Scholarship, DDWS’ first permanent endowed scholarship, went to Cypress Lake High recent graduate Dara Craig, who will be attending the earth and environmental studies program at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. DDWS Emeritus Board Member Marilyn Kloosterman presented the award in honor of her late friend Werner, who volunteered at the refuge for 25 years.

To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit www.dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at 239-292-0566 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.