SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) has announced the recipients of its 2022 Conservation Achievement Scholarships.
Allison Klemstein of Vernon Hills, Tanner Spencer of Rushville, Will Jenkins of Raymond and William Weber of Flanagan will each receive $2,000 to apply toward specified college expenses. All four have graduated from high school and will begin their freshman year of college.
"Supporting this up-and-coming class of dedicated young conservation advocates is what the Conservation Achievement Scholarship program is all about," said Colleen Callahan, chair of the ICF Board of Directors and director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "Thanks to generous donors to the Illinois Conservation Foundation, we are proud to support the academic and conservation stewardship pursuits of four deserving and outstanding young people this year."
The 2022 Conservation Achievement Scholarship recipients:
Allison Klemstein, Vernon Hills, Vernon Hills High School
Allison Klemstein is an excellent high school student who found her appreciation for the environment as a sailing instructor on Lake Michigan. She studied environmental justice in humanities, and while outside of the classroom she pursued her interests through STEM Scholars and Science Olympiad. As a member of the water testing team at her local Sierra Club chapter, she helped residents of Long Lake protect the health of their families from different water toxins. As a volunteer for the Lake County Forest Preserve, she helped remove invasive species and planted native species to help restore the natural environment. Klemstein plans to study civil and environmental engineering at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.
Tanner Spencer, Rushville, Rushville-Industry High School
Tanner Spencer's love for conservation started at a young age as he was raised by a family who cherished the outdoors. While spending his younger years hunting and fishing with his family, his passion for the outdoors grew. While working for a local garden center, Spencer realized he wanted to find a career where he could work to help conserve our natural resources. He began planting trees and Conservation Reserve Program fields, building pollinator gardens and participating in a timber-clearing improvement project. He also volunteered with a project that he is most proud of – helping a district wildlife biologist band wood ducks at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge. Spencer plans pursue a degree in environmental studies and wildlife management at Illinois College in Jacksonville.
Will Jenkins, Raymond, Lincolnwood High School
Will Jenkins' passion for the outdoors began at age 2 when his father took him out for his first dove hunt. This passion grew throughout his teenage years as he became an avid hunter, especially enjoying hunting deer, turkey and quail. Jenkins developed an understanding properly managed habitat is key to hunting. This led him to pursue opportunities to help create and maintain natural habitats throughout his high school years. As a freshman, he took the opportunity to turn his FFA project into just this – he planted and maintained a pollinator garden through his senior year. He also volunteered to help local farmers with Conservation Reserve Programs and participated in controlled burns. He attributes much of his gained conservation knowledge to his work with Pheasants Forever. He spent time on the Illinois Youth Leadership Council, volunteers at state and national conventions, and continues to be an active member of his local Pheasants Forever chapter. He is also a proud member of the FFA and currently serves as chapter president. He plans to attend Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield.
William Weber, Flanagan, Flanagan-Cornell High School
Although William Weber is highly ranked within his high school class, you won't hear him talk much about his studies. He has grown to enjoy nature through his years in scouting. His favorite conservation project was his Eagle Scout project: removing 650 square feet of invasive brush and trees from the Comlara Park campground shoreline at Evergreen Lake in Hudson. While removing brush and trees from the area, he got the idea to place two dead trees and some brush in the lake to provide a fish structure to benefit the fishing quality. Throughout his high school years, Weber has participated in many other conservation projects, including helping IDNR biologists with a muskie rescue at Evergreen Lake. It was during these projects that he learned about the conservation effort it takes to keep a lake populated and healthy. He has also volunteered to help plant trees, foster young oak trees and participate in a prairie seed collection. He plans to study fisheries and waterway management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Applicants for the ICF Conservation Achievement Scholarship program must be outstanding high school seniors in Illinois who have demonstrated effective, voluntary, long-term dedication to the preservation, protection, enhancement and/or promotion of Illinois' natural resources. Other criteria also apply. For more information, check the ICF website at www.ilconservation.org.
For information on donating to and supporting the Conservation Achievement Scholarships or other ICF programs, contact the foundation at 217-785-2003 or donate online at www.ilconservation.org.