MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –
West Virginia University
alumnus Gregory “Greg” Gensheimer is turning a personal passion into action through
the establishment of an endowed scholarship that will benefit students in the
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
Gensheimer has committed a gift of $25,000 to create the Gregory J. Gensheimer Scholarship, which will support WVU juniors and seniors majoring in recreation, parks and tourism resources or wildlife and fisheries resources in the Davis College School of Natural Resources.
The Pittsburgh native, who now resides in Montverde, Florida, has a long-held passion for wildlife and the outdoors.
“I always wanted to be in wildlife biology,” he said. “Nobody in my family does anything like that, so anything I did with wildlife and fishing was pretty much on my own. There was just something in me that wanted to pursue it, and that is why I came to WVU.”
After earning a bachelor’s in wildlife in 1978, a master’s in agronomy in 1980 and a PhD in soil science, Gensheimer spent several years working as an environmental consultant for an environmental and engineering company in Gainesville, Florida.
In 1993, an opportunity led him back to Pittsburgh, where he served as an environmental expert for a mutual fund company and, in a big twist of fate, moved over to the 401(k) area. He became director of new business, selling back office recordkeeping services to various banks throughout the country. After a few years, Gensheimer’s career in the 401(k) business led him back to Florida, where he has since remained.
In 2002, Gensheimer helped formally establish Green Mountain Scenic Byway, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and preserving resources around a scenic roadway in central Florida that spans more than 40 miles, connecting small towns with recreational opportunities.
“It’s just a bunch of little things that came together,” Gensheimer said, when asked about his reason for creating the scholarship fund. “When we’re (Green Mountain Scenic Byway) trying to create outdoor opportunities for people – or, ‘paths of recreation’ – I see the pleasure it brings to people who engage in those activities, whether it’s bird-watching, chasing butterflies and salamanders or looking at trees.”
Gensheimer fervently hopes to advance an appreciation for the outdoors at a time when mobile devices are king.
“So many kids today have their faces stuck in their iPhones, not realizing the opportunities right in their own back yard,” Gensheimer said. “That caused me to see a need. And that realization, combined with the fact that my mom and dad paid for my education, just kind of ‘clicked’ with me – in order to pay back my parents, I wanted to create an opportunity where I could help kids go through school.”
And, without a doubt, Gensheimer’s goal will be realized.
“This gift – and the scholarship that will result from it – will undoubtedly provide students with an opportunity to learn both outside and within the classroom,” said Robert Burns, professor and director of the Division of Forestry and Natural Resources. “This scholarship is unique in that it is cross-disciplinary, supporting wildlife and fisheries and recreation, parks and tourism.
“We have an opportunity to honor Mr. Gensheimer through the successes of our current and future students.”
Included in Gensheimer’s commitment are matching gifts from the company for which he currently works, Standard Insurance Company (The Standard), a leading provider of financial products and services, and parent company, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company.
Gensheimer’s gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University which runs through December.
Pictured above: Greg Gensheimer
CONTACT: Nikky Luna; WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design 304.293.2394; Nikky.Luna@mail.wvu.edu