Four writers from Florida universities have been awarded a total of $9,000 as the 2022 recipients of the Florida Outdoors Writers Association scholarship for outdoor communicators.
The winners are Clark Morgan, a PhD candidate at Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Alexandra Butler, an undergraduate at the University of Tampa, Yuvraj Khamare, a PhD candidate at the University of Florida, and Shane Wever, a master’s candidate at Nova Southeastern University.
Seventeen applications representing 7 Florida academic institutions were reviewed by FOWA member judges. “These four individuals demonstrate the scholastic merit, career achievements, and vocation that most closely align with FOWA ideals of outdoor communication,” said Cassie Sexson, Florida Sea Grant Student Programs Coordinator and chair of the FOWA scholarship committee. “They impressed the scholarship committee with their ability to communicate to a wide variety of audiences by bridging their academic interests and love for the outdoors through journalistic writing, storytelling and digital media.”
Clark Morgan is a developing fisheries oceanographer and photojournalist stationed at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Ft. Pierce, Florida. His current dissertation research focuses on the Atlantic goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara), an enigmatic species at the heart of current conservation controversy. Clark aims to narrow the gap of our understanding of the natural world, while helping to combat the loss of biodiversity due to anthropogenic impact. While conducting strong science is important for fisheries management, he believes it is useless if it is not effectively communicated to produce change of both public perception and policy. Moreover, photojournalism published for public outreach and education can reach profoundly larger and more diverse audiences than published scientific articles alone, and thus, creates a more positive impact. Therefore, he is trying to use photography to bridge the gap between science and public perception.
Alex Butler is a senior at The University of Tampa, pursuing a degree in Environmental Science with minors in Marine Biology, Sustainability, and Journalism. As a Florida native, she grew up surfing, paddle boarding, and snorkeling and quickly developed a passion for ocean conservation. After seeing first-hand how many other people did not care about protecting the environment or wildlife, she became determined to communicate her passion to others. Currently, she is conducting research on hammerhead shark morphology and serves as the editor-in-chief of The University of Tampa’s student newspaper. The combination of her degrees has culminated in working with local organizations such as Blue Green Connections, where she has developed a field guide app for Florida’s Gulf Coast. Alex aims to continue to educate and motivate others to care for the ocean through a combination of science, writing, digital media, and environmental policy.
Yuvraj Khamare is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida. His study is mainly focused on weed science and its management in container-grown ornamental plants. In addition, he is also working on a minor in agronomy. Through his passion for plants, he learned about ornamental weed management issues and the various problems that nursery and greenhouse growers face with weeds. This environmental and industry-wide epidemic caught his attention, prompting him to further his career in weed management for ornamentals and nursery crops. The goal of his research is to find effective, economical, and environmentally friendly weed management options for growers and landscape professionals. Yuvraj is also an aspiring garden writer with a focus on chemical-free weed management for home gardeners. He has published several extension papers on weed identification and management for the University of Florida extension website. After his graduation, he plans to work as a successful weed scientist with an agrochemical company or in academia, helping to find and develop new methods of weed management. He intends to implement his passion for educating and communicating with the public in his professional career.
Shane Wever is a marine biologist and graduate research assistant in the Coral Reef Restoration, Assessment, and Monitoring Lab at Nova Southeastern University. His research focuses on long term monitoring of coral reefs and assessing methods to optimize the restoration of coral populations in southeast Florida. He is currently in his last semester of graduate school, working on a thesis that investigates the stabilization and restoration of coral reefs severely impacted by ship groundings. Shane uses his photography, videography and writing skills to curate his lab’s social media where he posts updates on their research, using descriptive and digestible language to educate viewers about Florida’s marine life and new science. Upon graduation, Shane plans to use his vast knowledge of coral restoration, archives of media and nearly 1,000 dives worth of experience to create educational and awe-inspiring content that will encourage conservation through inspiration, rather than demand it through social condemnation.
Shane Wever received a scholarship sponsored by Gumbo Wars, a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes youth fishing and conservation programs in Central Florida; Clark Morgan and Alexandra Butler both received Susan B. Young Memorial scholarships, established in memory of Susan and her love of FOWA; and Yuvraj Khamare received the Kunde Memorial Scholarship, established for the Kunde’s long-time support of FOWA.
About the Florida Outdoor Writers Association
The Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWA) is a statewide network of the outdoor industry’s top communicators, conservationists, and industry-related companies. Chartered in 1946, the Florida nonprofit organization reports and reflects upon Florida’s diverse interests in the outdoors in order to educate the public about protecting and conserving its natural heritage. FOWA also enhances the economic well-being of its members through a bi-monthly Market Edge newsletter, organized events, and education and general craft improvement in all areas. Each year, FOWA awards scholarships to students pursuing careers in outdoor communication or studies involving the science of conservation. For more information, visit www.fowa.org.
About Florida Sea Grant
Hosted at the University of Florida (UF), the Florida Sea Grant College Program supports research, education and Extension to enhance coastal resources and economic opportunities through a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the State University System of Florida, and UF/IFAS Extension in counties statewide. Florida Sea Grant coordinates the annual outdoor writers scholarship competition in partnership with FOWA. For more information, visit www.flseagrant.org/student-opportunities.