By Mary Britton-Simmons
Annually the Youth Education Committee awards two college scholarships of $1500 to deserving seniors in high schools from the area Eastside Audubon serves. The winners are chosen based on the following criteria: keen interest in the natural world; involvement in extra-curricular activities which reflect this interest; academic record; and teacher or counselor recommendation. Over the years, we have given these scholarships to a wide variety of dedicated students. They have founded environmental clubs at their high schools, worked at the Burke Museum and Seattle Aquarium, studied at Wilderness Awareness, involved themselves in Kirkland’s Save Our Trails, started recycling programs during lunch hour, and taken challenging courses in high school. They are amazing!
This year we have awarded a scholarship to Meghna Shankar from Redmond High School in the Lake Washington School District. She is particularly interested in “sustainability related to environmental pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions, chemical pollution and waste disposal.” Her interest led her to write a letter to the editor of the Redmond Reporter urging her school district to reduce its environmental impact. As president of the Redmond High School Green Team, she has given presentations to classes on the Southern Resident Orcas and even organized a Fridays for Future Movement strike at her school. Students walked to the Redmond City Hall to meet with the mayor and a city council member to discuss the city’s climate policy. In September Meghna will take her passion for the environment to the University of Washington where she wants to participate in research at the Clean Energy Institute.
Our second winner is Mehul Krishna from Liberty High School in the Issaquah School District. At the University of Southern California, he plans to study sustainable systems. “I want to study how we can integrate our modern lives and modern conveniences within the greater ecosystem around us.” A volunteer with Earth Corps, he has removed blackberry bushes on Mercer Island which led him to “understand the fragility and complexity of the ecosystem in Western Washington.” As a participant in the National History Day competition, he created a website about the establishment of the North Cascades as a national park. His research and website qualified him for the national competition in Washington DC. This work led him to join Sustainability Ambassadors, a Seattle-based student group focused on community sustainability.
As in years past, our scholarship winners inspire in all of us a hope for the future of our planet. With young people like these, the future seems more promising. Thanks to all of you who donated to Eastside Audubon. Your gifts support important programs like the Brian Gershon Scholarship Fund.
Brian Gershon Scholarship Fund
In 2004, Eastside Audubon’s Board of Directors set up the Brian Gershon Scholarship Fund. Brian was a long-time Board Member who brought our chapter into the electronic age, developing our first web page in 1997.
Brian received a master's degree in Environment and Community at Antioch University Seattle and committed his skills to community development and lessening the impact of business on the environment through his work with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, and through his own business RagingWeb.com.
At the time the Brian Gershon Scholarship Fund was set up, our Board of Directors committed to supplement the grant up to $500 per year. Thanks to the amazing support of our members and donors, Eastside Audubon has been able to significantly increase our support of students dedicated to protecting our natural world.