Two writers from Florida universities have been awarded $1,000 each as the 2021 recipients of the Florida Outdoors Writers Association scholarship for outdoor communicators.
The winners are Mack White, a PhD candidate in Earth Systems Science at Florida International University in the Coastal Fisheries Research lab and Megan Cahill, an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida studying radio and television production with a minor in political science and currently serving as Media & Marketing Co-Coordinator at the UCF Arboretum.
Twenty-six applications representing 8 Florida academic institutions were reviewed by FOWA member judges. “These two individuals demonstrate the scholastic merit, career achievements, and vocation that most closely align with FOWA ideals of outdoor communication,” said Betty Staugler, Florida Sea Grant Specialist 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.”
Mack White’s research focuses on the ability of snook and other fishes to move important nutrients throughout the Everglades, linking seemingly disconnected ecosystems with one another and having potentially important implications for ecosystem health and function. Mack believes that digital media and journalistic writing have the potential to bridge communication gaps between scientists and the public. It is Mack’s hope to share his and other’s research through journalistic writing, videography, and photography in a way that is digestible and intriguing to multiple audiences, linking the worlds of scientists, hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts by the one thing they all have in common – a deep appreciation for the natural world.
Megan Cahill’s work at the Arboretum given her the platform to utilize her studies and communicate her passion for the environment through digital media. Fascinated in Florida’s different ecosystems, Megan creates entertaining and educational content about the phenomenon’s she sees. She also had the pleasure of being a videographer for Florida Wildlife Corridor and The Good Doctor Teaching Farm in Dunnellon, Florida. Megan hopes to continue making environmentally driven content after graduation. As she moves forward, she wants her art to focus on sustainability and climate change, and hopefully be instrumental in creating a sustainable future.
Megan received a scholarship sponsored by Gumbo Wars, a nonprofit organization that supports youth fishing. Mack received the first Colin Michael Cone Kindness Scholarship in memory of Dennis and Laura Cone’s son. This scholarship sponsored by the family along with the Evergreen Youth Foundation – PCA is to help support the academic achievements of students through FOWA. Both recipients also received gift baskets containing outdoor accessories donated by Costa Del Mar.
FOWA awards scholarships each year to deserving college students whose career goals are to communicate to the public a love and appreciation for the outdoor experience. In addition to the monetary award, winners also receive an associate FOWA membership and waiving of that year’s conference registration fee. Florida Sea Grant coordinates the competition. The 2021 competition will open in March. Learn more at www.flseagrant.org/students.