Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains is pleased to announce the awarding of the “Jane Pratt Blue Ridge Mountains Education Award” to two graduating High School Seniors in our 5-county project area (Loudoun, Clarke, Fauquier, and Rappahannok, in VA., and Jefferson, WV). This year’s recipients, Rachael Weinstein and Alexis Zimmer-Chu, are both from the Loudoun County Public School system. The Award consists of $1,000 scholarship toward college tuition and a framed certificate, and was presented to the students at their respective high school’s Awards Assembly.
Rachel Weinstein, a graduating senior from Loudoun Valley High School, recently joined one of FBRM’s Stewardship Days at Blue Ridge Regional Park and, as indicated in her essay, has spent much of her life in the outdoors-hiking and volunteering to keep the mountain environment as pristine as possible. As Rachel writes:
“…It bothers me when I see others abuse the environment and I so desire to be involved in efforts to protect our natural surroundings. It does not take much effort – it can be as simple as recycling, buying re-useable items, quit using plastics, and not littering. If each of us makes an effort, collectively the effort becomes strong. I cannot continue to enjoy my home and its surroundings unless I am willing to actively participate in its protection. I have helped clean-up trails, repaired birdhouses and am participating in an environmental capstone project. I need to not just stop with these actions.
What I want is to be involved in the protection of our environment and that of its animals. I understand the need for a balance between man and our surroundings is as critical for our survival as for the environment As my AP Environmental teacher, Liam McGranaghan has taught me, I accept that resources must be expended in order to survive but we need to be careful to protect and replenish. I do not want to see resources destroyed just for enjoyment or development. “
Rachel will continue her studies in Environmental Science at James Madison University.
Alexis Zimmer-Chu is graduating from Woodgrove High School. She cited a life-long love of the mountains, including attending camp at The Mountain Institute at Spruce Knob. Alexis writes:
“…When I think of family, I think of hiking the Appalachian trail, weekends on the Shenandoah, and my brother’s first birthday party, which we celebrated in Blackburn Lodge. My clearest moments are always found in nature, so the value that the Blue Ridge holds is deeply personal for me. The Blue Ridge mountains were my playground and are now a passion of mine, my experiences here have shaped my ambitions………I can trace my love of the natural world back to scaling rocks at Bear’s Den and climbing pawpaw trees on the banks of the Shenandoah. The sense of awe and joy that has been instilled in me by the Blue Ridge mountains has manifested into an intense desire to preserve magical places like these, and to help the people who live in and around them.”
Alexis will continue her pursuit of environmental studies at Oberlin College in the Fall.