The Wyss Foundation, a charitable organization that promotes land conservation in the U.S. West, has selected three Yale students as 2014 Wyss Scholars — Benjamin Hayes M.F. ‘15, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Marsters M.E.M. ‘16 M.B.A. ‘16, and Mordechai Treiger LAW ‘15.
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 on western conservation issues.
Scholars also receive funding to cover conservation work experience in summer research or internships, plus funding to conduct special programming on western land conservation issues while at Yale.
“Tackling the increasingly complex natural resource and conservation challenges facing the West will require the brightest and most creative minds of this generation,” said Molly McUsic, president of the Wyss Foundation. “We are excited to support Ben, Lizzie, and Mordechai as they continue to grow as problem-solvers and conservation leaders for our country.”
Hayes, who is interested in making large areas of working forest and grassland financially viable while providing services to human populations and wildlife, will spend this summer working on issues related to “community forest” finance in Oregon. Specifically, he will explore income stream diversification and community value from conservation lands.
“I’m thrilled and honored to have received this scholarship,” he said. “It’s humbling to see the magnitude of land conservation issues facing the West, but equally exciting to continue working towards a better future for communities and ecosystems throughout the region. The Wyss Foundation’s investment in land and education is a true gift to the entire country.”
Marsters, who has previously worked with the U.S. Department of Interior on Native American land consolidation issues and large landscape-level initiatives, aims to combine her interest in conservation with impact measurements to address sustainable development and land management issues.
“I’ve spent the past five years working on western land conservation issues, I’m thrilled to have a vehicle to put this passion into practice after graduation,” she said. “I am honored to be joining the community of esteemed Wyss Scholars. I greatly appreciate the diversity of disciplines in the Wyss Foundation community dedicated to protecting some of our most fragile ecosystems.”
Treiger, a law student who will spend this summer with Earthjustice in Seattle, is just the second Wyss Scholar who is neither a student at F&ES nor a joint program student with the School of Management. Three years ago the Wyss Foundation expanded the scholar program to include students from other disciplines, recognizing that conservation issues in the Intermountain West will benefit from leaders with diverse training, skills and perspectives.
“I hope to use my background studying environmental issues, as well as my legal training, to advance creative solutions to the challenges facing everyone who lives in, and cares about, the West,” he said. “As a law student, I am particularly excited by the prospect of joining a community of Fellows committed to the same goals. I am honored that the Wyss Foundation has chosen to support my work and my career, and appreciate its affirmation that I am on the right track.”
Twenty-one students have now been named Wyss Scholars during the program’s nine years.
“The Wyss Scholars are among the very best students,” said Susan Clark, a professor of wildlife ecology and policy science at F&ES and faculty director of the Wyss Scholars program at Yale. “Their interests and career lie in the great American West. Numerous pressing leadership, management, and policy challenges exist in the West and they are of great consequence to the nation and world. Wyss Scholars aim to try and help.”
Previous Scholars from Yale F&ES include Avery Anderson M.E.M. ‘08, 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; and Patrick Holmes M.E.M. ‘08, Special Assistant to the U.S. Undersecretary of Natural Resources in Washington, D.C.