Wooten was selected because of her demonstrated ability to solve problems through finding and sharing connections between conflicting stakeholders. The selection committee also cited her dedication to ecosystem restoration and sustainable land use and policy, as well as her post-graduation plans to increase the long-term resilience of terrestrial ecosystems by connecting isolated protected areas.
Prior to F&ES, Wooten served as an environmental education volunteer in the Peace Corps in El Salvador where she worked with the Ministry of Education to promote the use of interactive science classes as a means of increasing awareness and protection of biodiversity. After returning to the U.S. she joined the Conservation Department of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and later managed the A.T. Corridor Lands Stewardship program in the Mid-Atlantic States. Last summer Wooten put her F&ES education to practice along the 3,100-mile-long Continental Divide National Scenic Trail by building a Lands Protection program with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.
VanAcker was selected in recognition of her capacity for leadership as demonstrated through her commitment to empowering young people to join the conservation field. Her research on the role of landscape level changes on wildlife health and disease transmissioncould make important and novel contributions to the field.
Prior to her arrival at the F&ES, VanAcker worked with the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeepers on RiverWatch, a citizen scientist-led project monitoring the health of the Niagara watershed through water quality assessments. She also led an independent project building bat houses for integrated pest management on a permaculture farm in Nicaragua. As an undergraduate at DePaul University, VanAcker researched the impacts of restoration techniques at Midwest prairie sites on belowground microarthropod communities and spent her summer seasons at Mount Rainier National Park conducting wildlife surveys on the declining northern spotted owl population.
This is the first year for the MK McCarthy-RW Worth Scholarship for Leadership in Conservation Science award.
Students interested in applying next year are welcome to reach out to Tara Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tim Northrop in the Development and Alumni Services Office at email@example.com.