Two students awarded Udall scholarships for environmental activism
|Josh Meyer, a chemistry and environmental studies sophomore, and Jim Hardy, a sophomore secondary education major, each have won $5,000 scholarships from the federal Morris K. Udall Foundation.
One year ago, Temple sophomore Josh Meyer netted a $5,000 scholarship from the federal Morris K. Udall Foundation based on the promise shown by his grassroots tree-planting project in Francisville, one of Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods.
With that money came the expectation that Meyer would redouble his efforts and bring other eco-friendly initiatives to city residents.
A year later, Meyer can boast of having led a team of five Temple undergraduates into the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro to create a hydroponic farming apparatus that turns the walls and roofs of Brazilian homes into small gardens.
Meyer, a Uni-versity Honors student, may have switched cities and broadened his scope, but the Udall Foundation has again rewarded him with a federal scholarship for his dedication to environmental causes.
“The great thing about the Udall program is that you are connected with like-minded people who are pursuing great ideas,” said Meyer, who used his Udall scholarship to travel to Brazil last summer and research his plan for rooftop gardens.
Joining Meyer in this year’s class of 81 collegiate Udall scholars is Jim Hardy, a sophomore secondary education major.
It is the second straight year that two Temple students have earned the awards. Temple is also one of only a few schools to have multiple winners, according to Honors director Ruth Ost, who oversees student applications to the Udall Foundation. This year for the first time, she also served as a juror for scholarship applications for students outside of Pennsylvania.
Meyer, a chemistry and environmental studies dual major, used his science knowledge to work on hydroponic gardens. Hardy, on the other hand, plans to use his teaching and organizational skills to motivate high-schoolers to be conscious of environmental issues.
A onetime environmental studies major, Hardy spent four years working with the Student Environmental Action Coalition, a nationwide collection of progressive networks that empowers youth to fight for environmental and social justice at the local level.
“I’ve seen a lack of opportunities for grassroots campaigning in public schools, and there’s no encouragement for students to be involved with environmental issues,” said Hardy, who also serves on the local Green Party’s city committee.
“I want to start projects that show students how they can be active agents for change,” he continued. “Not only could it have an impact on their communities and their lives, but it’s a great learning experience for young students.”
Hardy, a 1996 graduate of Westtown School, hopes to teach in Philadelphia’s public schools.
Beyond the scholarship benefits, he sees the Udall program as a valuable network of young environmentalists.
“I hope being part of the Udall scholars will open my eyes to different projects going on across the country,” he said. “I can open doors down the road for my students by meeting high-quality people now who are committed to sustainability.”
- By Ted Boscia