Wildlife Leadership Academy Awards Ralph Abele College Scholarships To 6 Teen Conservation Leaders

On November 2, the Wildlife Leadership Academy announced the award of Ralph Abele Excellence In Outreach Award to six teen conservation leaders which includes a $500 college scholarship.

Wildlife Leadership Academy is a year-round program for high-school age youth that begins with rigorous summer field schools that focus on wildlife/fisheries biology and conservation as well as leadership skills development. 

Following the field schools, students are mentored through the following year to serve as Conservation Ambassadors giving back to their communities through education, service, media engagement, creative arts and outdoor mentorship. 

The awardees each attended a 2019 Academy field school, taking their role as a Conservation Ambassador to heart going above and beyond to make an impact in their community into the next year. 

Awardees include Lily Palfrey of Indiana County (Bucktails field school); Paige Fino of Washington County (Bass field school); Sofia Lathrop-Olmedo of Philadelphia County and Matthew Coulter of Delaware County (Brookies field school); Nathan Johnson of Cumberland County (Drummers field school), and Zachary Mosier of Elk County (Gobblers Field School). 

Together the awarded students dedicated 958 hours to their community and connected with over 10,300 citizens.

The Academy has been giving these awards since their inception in 2007.  In 2017, the award was renamed in honor of Pennsylvania’s conservation leader, Ralph Abele.

“Because of Mr. Abele’s dedication to engaging youth in conservation and the outdoors, renaming our Excellence in Outreach Award in his honor seemed like a perfect full circle moment,” said Academy Executive Director, Michele Kittell.

Matthew Coulter felt that winning the award was an incredible honor-- “I have always wanted to do something to make a difference. With the help of Wildlife Leadership Academy, I gained the resources and experience to create change for a better future. Being awarded the Ralph Abele scholarship meant the world to me. It made me feel like I had made a real impact on the people and environment around me.”

At each field school, part of the curriculum includes Ralph Abele’s story shared through the WITF documentary Straight Talk

“Sharing his story with young, eager conservation leaders, exemplifies to them that even in difficult times, one can make amazing strides on behalf of our natural resources by working hard and having a belief in something bigger than themselves,” Kittell said.

The mission of the Wildlife Leadership Academy is to engage and empower high school age youth to become Conservation Ambassadors to ensure a sustained wildlife, fisheries and natural resource legacy for future generations.

The Academy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is a cooperative initiative involving state agencies and conservation organizations. In total, the Academy’s Conservation

Ambassadors have conducted 6,327 outreach projects; given more than 24,000 hours of work to their communities, and engaged over 113,000 citizens.

Nominations Open For 2021

The Wildlife Leadership Academy has opened its exclusive Youth Conservation Ambassador nomination process for 2021 to the public and is currently seeking referrals of motivated students ages 14 to 17 to become Certified Conservation Ambassadors.

Nominations are now being accepted online.  Applicants may be nominated by an adult who knows them well but is not a relative (teacher, school counselor, Envirothon advisor, employer, youth group leader, etc.).

Please contact Katie Cassidy, Youth and Alumni Outreach Manager, at 570-939-5109 or send an email to: kcassidy@wildlifeleadershipacademy.org with any questions.

For more information, visit the Wildlife Leadership Academy website or find them on Facebook.

(Photos: Sofia Lathrop-Olmedo, Matthew Coulter, Autumn McEntee, Lily Palfrey, Nathan Johnson, and Paige Fino.)

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[Posted: November 2, 2020]


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