Sydney E. White, from Bealeton, Virginia, has been named a recipient of the George Lea Founder’s Scholarship, sponsored by the Public Lands Foundation (PLF). White will be a junior in the 2016-17 academic year, and is a current wildlife and fisheries resources major in the West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
The scholarship consists of a $5,000 award to be used toward tuition expenses; an invitation to attend the next PLF Annual Meeting in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with all travel expenses paid; and the opportunity to “shadow” a Bureau of Land Management manager for a day.
According to PLF, White’s academic achievements, involvement with professional societies, and her desire to pursue a career related to the conservation of threatened and endangered species made her rise to the top of the list.
White experienced a mix of emotions after learning she had been selected.
“I was very surprised,” she said. “It was hard to believe that out of all the people who applied for this, I was chosen. I am very grateful to have been selected.”
Along with her feelings of surprise, humility and gratitude, White is enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead.
“I am very excited to travel to New Mexico this fall and shadow a BLM manager in Washington, D.C.,” said White. “When you’re given an opportunity to gain experience in your field, you should always take it, and I am so grateful to have been given such an opportunity.”
Unsurprisingly, White’s academic and professional interests are driven by a personal passion.
“I have always had a deep love for the outdoors,” she said. “From a young age, I knew I wanted to work with wildlife. It’s something I’m very passionate about.”
As with many people who hold deeply to a cause they care about, White hopes her passion is contagious.
“I want to put myself in a position where I can influence others to care for and appreciate wildlife and the outdoors in the same way that I do,” she explained. “It is much more important than most people realize.”
To be eligible for the George Lea Founder’s Scholarship, students must be enrolled as full-time juniors, seniors and masters-level graduate students who demonstrate academic excellence, exhibit financial need, and are majoring in a natural resource or public land policy curriculum. The Public Lands Foundation is a non-profit organization which advocates for the professional and sustainable management of America’s public lands. The scholarship is named after George Lea who founded the Public Lands Foundation in 1987 after a long career with the Bureau of Land Management.