Champaign, Illinois — Two University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students have won Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation Because of their commitment to the environment. Ethan Moore of Plano, Texas, is one of 55 students nationwide to be selected as Udall Scholars. Jenna Schaefer of St. Joseph, Illinois, was awarded the Honorable Mention.
A 20-member national independent review committee selects Udall Scholars based on applicants’ commitment to environmental careers, Aboriginal health care, or tribal public policy; leadership potential; public service record; and academic performance. Scholars will receive up to $7,000 in educational expenses and attend a five-day conference in Tucson, Arizona to learn more about public service and connect with scholars in the fields of the environment, tribal health care and governance and Interact with community leaders.
The Udall Awards provide ongoing networking opportunities for honorable mentions. Since its inception by Congress in 1992, the Udall Foundation has awarded 1,843 scholarships totaling $9.4 million.
Moore graduated from Plano High School, majoring in mechanical Engineering Honors Student as a James Scholar Granger School of EngineeringIn Illinois, Moore is independently developing a low-cost autonomous surface vessel using machine learning to enable continuous dynamic mapping and prediction of water quality parameters such as pH, turbidity, salinity, and dissolved oxygen. His work was funded by the Office of Undergraduate Research.
Moore also founded WYSE DREAAM Robotics, an outreach program designed to spark interest in robotics among middle school students. “Ocean acidification, commercial overfishing, and industrial pollution have wreaked havoc on the waters where all life on Earth lives,” Moore said. “I am eager to address these challenges by adding robots to the world’s waters to collect data to assist policy implementation, predict future states and disseminate treatments.”
Schaefer is a graduate of St. Joseph-Ogden High School and has completed her second year at Illinois, majoring in Agricultural and Consumer Economics Honors student as a James Scholar with a focus on environmental economics and policy School of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental SciencesAs a member of the Illinois Zero Waste Climate Action Plan team, Schaeffer works with students, faculty, and staff to develop and advance zero waste initiatives to achieve the goals of the Illinois Climate Action Plan.
She also serves as an Illini Lights Out intern at the campus’ Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and the Environment, and volunteers with the organization Project for Less, which packs restaurant surplus food for donation to fight food insecurity and food waste. In the future, Schaefer said she plans to serve as a zero waste coordinator, promoting environmental sustainability through responsible sourcing of commodities, reducing waste sent to landfill, and educating about the environmental impact of waste.
“The University of Illinois has a total of 11 Udall Scholars and Honorable Mentions over the past decade, a true testament to the ongoing environmental engagement opportunities on our campus and in our community,” said David Sugar, director of the National and International Scholarship Program at Illinois. “It’s great to see the work of these students pay off in such a tangible way.”