Tal Shutkin, a sophomore from Shaker Heights, Ohio, has been named a 2017 Udall Scholar. The Udall Scholarship recognizes fifty college sophomores and juniors committed to careers related to the environment with a $7,000 scholarship; the award is also open to Native American students interested in tribal policy or native healthcare. Since the first awards in 1996, the Udall Foundation has awarded 1,574 scholarships totaling $8,090,000. An Honors student, Tal is pursuing a degree in Environmental Policy and Decision Making; he is Ohio State’s twelfth Udall Scholar.
Though only a sophomore, Tal has already distinguished himself as an environmental leader on and off campus. He co-founded Renew OSU, a student group advocating for Ohio State’s divestment from fossil fuels, and serves as Vice President of the Sierra Club Student Coalition. He was selected to participate in the Sierra Club Summer Leadership Program in 2015, and represented Ohio State at the Environmental Defense Fund’s 2016 National Campus Leadership Summit. Tal also sought out experience in political advocacy, working as a field canvasser for the Ohio Citizen Action and a campaign organizer for the Rainforest Action Network. He is also an active participant in Mountaineers at Ohio State, recently leading a student climbing trip to Mt Washington in New Hampshire.
Beyond his campus and community activities, Tal has looked to ground his environmentalism within a strong academic framework. He has begun research for his honors thesis on conservation policy evaluating the effectiveness of indigenous natural resource reserves as a conservation strategy in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. Advised by Dr. Anna Wilson in the Department of Anthropology, he chose to focus on this particular location because of the ecological importance of the region as the largest protected old-growth coastal temperate rainforest on the planet, and the potentially groundbreaking conservation strategies being practiced there. After graduation, Tal plans to pursue a PhD in political ecology before pursuing a career as a policy specialist for an environmental NGO focusing on individualized, research-based approaches to conservation governance.
“I am honored to have been chosen for this scholarship and excited for the opportunity to connect with students from across the country who are passionate about environmental and tribal issues,” Shutkin noted. “I look forward to learning from my Udall cohort about each person’s unique but interrelated area of interest. This process has reassured me that I am on the right track for creating the kind of change that I want to see and has motivated me to pursue this vision with more vigor.”
Only 60 Udall Scholars are selected annually across the country. The Scholars were chosen from a pool of from 494 applicants nominated by 224 universities; each university may nominate up to four students in the environment category. A 15-member independent review committee appointed by the Udall Foundation selected this year's group of Udall Scholars on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, leadership potential, academic achievement, and record of public service. The review committee also awarded 50 Honorable Mentions. The Udall Foundations honors the legacy of the late Congressman Morris K. Udall and his brother Stewart L. Udall, also a Congressman and former Secretary of the Interior.
For more information and a complete list of recipients, please visit the Udall Foundation website, http://www.udall.gov/
. Students interested in applying for the Udall Scholarship should contact the Undergraduate Fellowship Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).