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DDWS awards $20K for environmental studies scholarships

By Staff | Jun 25, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Islander Dara Craig received her fourth DDWS scholarship this year for graduate school at the University of Oregon. She has studied climate change and glacial melt in New Zealand.

In compliance with state pandemic guidelines, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge this year awarded $20,700 in conservation education scholarships remotely to 10 students from the surrounding five-county area. During its 14-year history, the DDWS Environmental Scholarship Program has awarded a total of $147,100 to deserving students.

“The society is committed to educating today’s youth to become conservation stewards of the future,” DDWS Education Committee Chair Wendy Kindig said. “We work with businesses and individuals to provide annual scholarships to award to outstanding students pursuing degrees related to conservation, wildlife biology, environmental engineering, policy, and science. A big thank you to our scholarship sponsors for their support.”

Ten donors sponsored the 10 scholarships this year. In lieu of the traditional physical awards ceremony, the DDWS invited scholarship recipients to send a video describing their plans to share with donors.

A new award this year from a late, longtime DDWS board and education committee member, in partnership with the DDWS – the Win and Marilyn Kloosterman Memorial Scholarship – went to Dara Craig. Originally from Sanibel, Craig is a Cypress Lake High alumnus who will be attending graduate school at the University of Oregon’s environmental sciences program.

The Richard Bailey Scholarship, named in memory of a longtime refuge volunteer and donated by his family, went to Madison Craumer, who graduated this spring from Lely High School in Naples and is headed to Florida Gulf Coast University to major in environmental engineering.


The Mike and Terry Baldwin Scholarship, named for the DDWS’ president and his wife – an emeritus board member – went to Griffin Alexander, a Naples High graduate studying ecosystem science, policy and law at the University of Miami.

Meguine Duvert, an Immokalee High graduate heading to the University of Florida to study zoology, received the Dr. Andrew and Laura Dahlem Scholarship. The Dahlems live part-time on Sanibel; their family honors them with a named scholarship.

Naples’ Gulf Coast High graduate Skylar Fry, who will begin studies in environmental science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, was awarded the Dr. H. Randall Deming Endowed Scholarship for Conservation & Environmental Studies. Deming’s family established the scholarship in 2016 as a permanent endowed scholarship in his memory.

The Leslie & Hans Fleischner Scholarship went to William Sobczak, a graduate of Barron Collier High in Naples who intends to major in environmental engineering at UF. The Fleischners are part-time Sanibel residents whose love of the island’s environment has inspired them to sponsor the scholarships for several years.

Bailey White, a graduate of Fort Myers’ Canterbury High who will be studying ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University in New Jersey, received the Mary Elaine Jacobson Memorial Scholarship, made possible by the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society.

Barron Collier High graduate Manouk Hermans, who is headed to the University of Tampa to study environmental science, received the Barry and Francine Litofsky Scholarship, in memory of two former refuge volunteers.

The Tarpon Bay Explorers Scholarship went to Naples’ Golden Gate High graduate Nehemie Cyriaque, who will study ecosystem science and policy at UM. TBE, the recreation concession for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, started the original DDWS scholarship program in 2006.

The Jane Werner Endowed Environmental Scholarship, established in 2011 as the DDWS’ first permanent endowed scholarship, went to Barron Collier High graduate Mallory Poff, who studies environmental engineering at Elon University in North Carolina. The family of the late Werner, who volunteered at the refuge for 25 years, set up the scholarship in her honor.

“These students become part of the greater ‘Ding’ Darling family,” Kindig said. “We welcome them back as scholarship applicants next year and as fellow conservation stewards in years to come.”

The DDWS will award scholarships starting at $1,000 each at the end of the 2020-21 school year. High school seniors and college students living in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties and pursuing careers in biology, conservation and environmental studies are eligible.

For an application or more information, visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/student-scholarships.

Individuals and businesses interested in establishing a named scholarship of $1,000 or more for the 2020-21 school year can contact Lynnae Messina at 239-472-1100 ext. 233.