Academic Scholarships

To promote the preservation, awareness, and appreciation of our environment, the Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) offer scholarships to students who are pursuing careers in fish and wildlife management, environmental education and science, and related fields.

Three annual scholarships, one each of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 may be awarded to qualified applicants to be paid directly to their chosen academic institution. The scholarships are to be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment, if required of all other students in the registered courses.

Scholarships are available to students whose home residences are in Maryland and who will be entering their junior or senior year of college or a graduate program at the end of their present college term. Students receiving full scholarships from another source or combination of sources are not eligible.

If you're a student who is interested in applying, please see the fact sheet and application (.docx, .doc, or PDF) available below. The application and required attachments must be postmarked on or before the annual deadline of March 15:

For additional information, please email

2017 Environmental Sciences Academic Scholarship Winners

The Friends of Blackwater NWR (FOB) are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Environmental Sciences Academic Scholarships. This year the FOB awarded scholarships to three outstanding Maryland students majoring in environmental studies fields.

Jacob Shaner of Cambridge, Maryland, received a $3,000 scholarship to further his studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Jacob is pursuing an MS degree in Ecological Systems and is specializing in Fisheries Management. Jacob's experience in wildlife conservation has included work at a remote Pacific atoll, on Assawoman and Assateague Islands on the Delmarva Peninsula, and at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory in Oxford, Maryland.

Warren Staver of Centreville, Maryland, won the $2,000 scholarship. Warren is a student majoring in Environmental Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, and has worked as a field assistant at the University of Maryland Horn Point Laboratory, at Blackwater NWR, and on Nantucket, Poplar, and Hart-Miller Islands. Warren is most interested in the interaction of human and natural systems.

Elizabeth Truitt of Bishopville, Maryland, received the $1,000 scholarship and is majoring in Environmental Science and Policy and is specializing in Coastal and Marine Management at the University of Maryland in College Park. "Libby" is also an intern at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation where she has helped lead tree and wetland plantings to improve the water quality of the Bay and provide habitat for native animals. Libby’s career path will likely be in the direction of Environmental Law with a dream job as a litigator for the CBF.

From left to right: Libby Truitt, Rick Abend (FOB President), Warren Staver, and Marcia Pradines (Project Leader for Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex). Jacob Shaner was unavailable due to field work on the Chesapeake white perch population.
From left to right: "Libby" Truitt, Rick Abend (FOB President), Warren Staver, and Marcia Pradines (Project Leader for Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex). Jacob Shaner was unavailable due to field work on the Chesapeake white perch population.

Where Are They Now?

Below are updates from some of our past scholarship winners. We're proud to see these graduates putting their knowledge and skills to good use!

Erika Koontz - 2016 winner

Erika's lifelong goal is to restore the waters of the Chesapeake Bay to boatable, fishable, and swimmable standards. In May 2017, she graduated summa cum laude from Washington College with a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies concentrating on Chesapeake Bay region. Erika has since worked as the Program and Policy Intern with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in their Easton, Maryland office. During her four-month internship, she assisted in the planning and execution of the Clean Water Concert series and piloted a small environmental education program with assistance from the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy and fellow FOB scholarship recipient Suzanne Sullivan (2016). Erika is now a faculty research assistant at the Horn Point Laboratory, one of the four labs in the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science system. She is part of a research team that studies the impact of agricultural best management practices on nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment movement in the Choptank watershed. Essentially, her team is working on the ground to test if the best management practices, like cover crops or riparian buffers, are doing their job of mitigating excess nutrients and sediment.

Anna Windle - 2015 winner

Anna was awarded a FOB scholarship during her senior year at Washington College and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in environmental science. She is currently a graduate student at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University in Durham North Carolina, where she will complete her Master's degree in Environmental Management, with a concentration in Coastal Environmental Management in May 2018. Anna is currently at the Duke University Marine Laboratory located near the coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina. She is a member of the Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Lab, and uses drones for various marine science and conservation research using high-resolution drone imagery to create health assessments of local oyster reefs. Anna plans on earning her PhD but misses the Chesapeake Bay and we may soon see her at the University of Maryland's Horn Point Lab studying the coastal environment. Protecting the Chesapeake Bay is still her passion.

Allison Speight - 2013 winner

Since graduating from Washington College with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies in 2014, Allison has been working at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Currently she is the Volunteer and Education Coordinator and manages a program of 300+ volunteers and creates, implements, and evaluates CBMM's education programs. Specialized tours, presentations, hands-on exploration, and volunteer training are just a few of Allison's efforts to not only achieve CBMM's mission, but also to align with current educational best practices.

Stephen Kelly - 2013 winner

Stephen graduated from Salisbury University in spring of 2015 with a Master's of Science degree in Applied Biology. While his studies and primary research were related to plant sciences and microbial ecology, his skills in computational analysis lead to his current employment as a Bioinformatics Programmer at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan. In his two years at NYU, Stephen has worked with scientists in research related to cancer genomics, which has led to several publications. Recently his main project has been the development and implementation of analytical methods for a new test to diagnose potential cancer patients at the medical center.