Allegheny Junior Susan Washko Earns Udall Scholarship Honorable Mention

April 21, 2015 – Susan Washko, a junior at Allegheny College, has received an honorable mention in the annual scholarship competition of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. Washko, an environmental science major and Spanish minor at Allegheny College, is from Hudson, Ohio.

The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to American Indian nations or to the environment. The scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, whose careers had a significant impact on American Indian self-governance, health care and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources.

Washko is a student leader on issues related to sustainability. The Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium recently named her a “Campus Sustainability Champion” for her work as president of Edible Allegheny, through which she assists with the DeHart Local Foods Dinner, helps to maintain the student garden and edible plantings, leads student trips to local farms and assists local farmers.

A member of the board of Students for Environmental Action at Allegheny College, Washko resides in a special-interest house called “Green Living,” which is focused on sustainability. She also works as manager of the college’s swim team and is a member of the College Choirs.

In addition, Washko is a research assistant during the academic year in a lab run by Professor of Environmental Science Rich Bowden, while in the summer she works with Professor of Biology Scott Wissinger at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. She is also a teaching assistant for a freshman seminar on the conservation of natural resources.

This semester, however, she is in Costa Rica studying tropical ecology and conservation.

“It’s been an amazing adventure to travel across the country immersed in all the different ecosystems and biological diversity. When I’m not on field trips, I spend time at the biological station in Monteverde, which is a beautiful town on the Continental Divide,” Washko says. “I’m working on my personal research project in Monteverde at present, studying the differences in species composition of butterflies across forest, a coffee plantation, a banana plantation and pasture.”

For the month of April Washko is living with a family in Costa Rica. “It’s giving me an amazing chance to explore Costa Rican traditions, food, and speak lots of Spanish,” she says.

Following graduation from Allegheny, Washko plans to earn a Ph.D. and become an ecological researcher. “I really love working outside exploring how ecosystems function and how humans impact the intricate systems,” she says.

Only 50 Udall Scholars and 50 Honorable Mentions are selected nationally each year.

“Recognition by the Udall Foundation places Susan among the nation’s most promising young leaders in efforts to advance sustainability,” said Terrence Bensel, Allegheny professor of environmental science and director of the Allegheny Gateway. “It is a prestigious achievement for her and for Allegheny College.”

The Udall Foundation is an independent federal agency that was established by Congress in 1992 to provide federally funded scholarships for college students intending to pursue careers related to the environment, as well as to Native American students pursuing tribal policy or health care careers. The foundation’s education programs are supported by a trust fund in the U.S. Treasury and contributions from the private sector.

Photo: Susan Washko at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory