Yale Students Named Wyss Scholars For Conservation Work in U.S. West

wyss scholars 2015
Chelsea Lane-Miller ’17 LAW., left, Elliott Vander Kolk ’16 M.F., and Katie Holsinger ’16 M.E.M.
The Wyss Foundation, a charitable organization that promotes land conservation in the U.S. West, has selected three Yale students as 2015 Wyss Scholars — Katie Holsinger ’16 M.E.M., Elliott Vander Kolk ’16 M.F., and Chelsea Lane-Miller ’17 LAW.
The Wyss Scholars Program supports graduate-level education for up-and-coming leaders in western land conservation. The awards cover up to half the tuition and expenses needed to earn a master’s degree, and provides post-graduate payments to Wyss Scholars who gain employment working with government or nonprofit organizations on western conservation issues. 
Scholars also receive funding to cover work experience in summer research or internships, plus funding to conduct special programming on western land conservation issues while at Yale.

“The natural resource challenges facing the West over the coming decades will require the creativity, problem-solving, and vision of a new generation of leaders in conservation,” said Molly McUsic, President of the Wyss Foundation. “With this year’s scholarships, we are proud to support a group of individuals who are so passionate about the outdoors and so committed to forging solutions to the resource challenges that lie ahead.” 
We are proud to support a group of individuals who are so passionate about the outdoors and so committed to forging solutions to the resource challenges that lie ahead.
— Molly McUsic, Wyss Foundation
Katie Holsinger is working to address conservation at a foundational level through education and community building. She is currently working on a book collaboration with artists, writers, and environmentalists of greater Yellowstone. The ultimate goal of the cross-disciplinary project, she says, is conservation of this iconic and important ecosystem. She will spend this summer with the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, working at the intersection of ecological communities and human communities to promote conservation throughout the Northern Rocky Mountain region.

“What an honor to be recognized as a Wyss Scholar,” she said. “This award acknowledges my commitment to conservation in the American West and will empower me to address the complex conservation challenges facing this region.”
Elliott Vander Kolk says he is interested in developing solutions to fragmented and degraded forests in the West that provide a range of social and environmental values such as watershed protection, severe wildfire mitigation, and carbon sequestration. The Wyss Scholarship will help support his work in integrating multiple social values such as rural economic development while maintaining robust ecosystem services. He anticipates that he will spend this summer working with a forest fuels reduction and watershed restoration project in Northeastern California.
“I am incredibly grateful to the Wyss Foundation for supporting my development as conservation leader in the west,” he said. “I look forward to learning from and collaborating with the tremendous network of Wyss Scholars working throughout the Western United States.”
Chelsea Lane-Miller, a Yale Law School student, is the third student from outside F&ES to become a Wyss Scholar. She is interested in water issues in the West and using the law to help achieve more sustainable water use. She has spent significant time studying water law and policy in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to work in Australia, England, and Chile, she has worked for American Rivers and studied California water law as a Research Fellow for Vermont Law School’s Water and Justice program. She is also interested in protecting public lands, and ensuring that future generations have access to wild places. 
“The public lands and waters are an incredible gift for each generation to enjoy,” she said. “However, it is different than most gifts, because each generation must maintain this gift, such that the public lands are undiminished and even enhanced for future generations to enjoy.
“I am honored and grateful that the Wyss Foundation is supporting my ongoing work to protect and restore these western landscapes.”
The Wyss Foundation has supported 24 Scholars at Yale during the last decade. While seven of those Scholars are still studying at Yale, many are now working as conservation leaders in the U.S. West. Yale is one of four universities that receive grant money from Wyss.
Previous Wyss Scholars from Yale F&ES include Avery Anderson ’08 M.E.M., who is now Executive Director of the Quivera Coalition, a New Mexico-based nonprofit organization dedicated to building economic and ecological resilience in western working landscapes; Peter Caligiuri ’10 M.E.M., the Central Oregon Forest Ecologist at The Nature Conservancy; and Patrick Holmes M.E.M. ‘08, Special Assistant to the U.S. Undersecretary of Natural Resources in Washington, D.C.