Athens, Ga. – For the first time, two University of Georgia students have been selected as recipients of the 2009 Morris K. Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, a national award recognizing second- and third-year students pursuing careers related to the environment or Native American policy.
UGA’s Udall Scholars are Ashley Dronenburg, a junior with a double major in journalism and environmental economics and management from Lawrenceville, and Mark Milby, a junior ecology major from Marietta. Dronenburg is a graduate of Collins Hill High School, and Milby is a graduate of Harrison High School.
“As the quality of the students at the University of Georgia continues to increase, so do the accolades,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “I am pleased that we have produced two Udall Scholars this year in Ashley Dronenburg and Mark Milby. Their success is further evidence that the students who are educated in this state can compete with anyone in the nation.”
Dronenburg and Milby are the fourth and fifth UGA students to receive the scholarship since 2003. The Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Foundation awards the $5,000 scholarships to honor the work and legacy of Udall’s 30-year public service career in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Ashley and Mark are exceptional scholars who have used their creative energies to improve the environment,” said Ron Carroll, UGA ecology professor and faculty representative for the scholarship. “After each of my encounters with them, I find myself asking, ‘How can I follow their careers?’ My sense is that it won’t be difficult because we will all be reading about their accomplishments in the future.”
Through reporting and campus activities, Dronenburg has demonstrated her commitment to raise awareness about current environmental issues. She has published service articles on biodiesel use in Athens and ways to “be green” on a student budget in UGAzine, a student magazine published by UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Another article profiling UGA’s student-run Herpetological Society is slated for publication in the fall.
Dronenburg has been involved with Students for Environmental Awareness since her freshman year and has served as president for the last two years. She has been successful in increasing membership and therefore support and participation in large-scale campus events and community service projects, such as America Recycles Day and the local celebration of Earth Day. She also works with the Go Green Alliance, a coalition of UGA environmental groups. Dronenburg most recently created a student volunteer partnership with the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.
“Receiving the scholarship and becoming part of the Udall community will give me an incredible opportunity to monitor the pulse of environmental news and developments in our country and across the globe,” said Dronenburg. “I hope to perpetuate Representative Udall’s inspiring legacy as a communicator of environmental issues.”
After earning her UGA degrees next spring, Dronenburg would like to pursue master’s degrees in journalism/mass communication and environmental economics to prepare for a career in environmental journalism.
Milby has been conducting research since his freshman year in UGA’s Odum School of Ecology. He currently is investigating the effects of climate change on forest ecosystem dynamics, under the guidance of ecology professor Jacqueline Mohan. He also has participated in UGA’s Interdisciplinary Field Program in which he studied the geology, anthropology and ecology of selected sites the group visited in 22 states and 11 national parks in summer 2007.
Milby has been a campus leader in promoting sustainability as well. He serves as co-president of the Ecology Club and as a council member for the Go Green Alliance. Milby also created and coordinates a campus-wide recycling program that takes place during UGA’s home football games.
“I am deeply honored to receive this scholarship and excited about networking with field leaders on a national level, one of the many positive implications of the Udall scholarship,” said Milby. “I am particularly proud to represent the Odum School of Ecology, the foundation of all the opportunities I’ve been given.”
Milby plans to enter graduate school and earn a Ph.D. in ecology or sustainable development. He would like to work with non-profit organizations that promote community sustainable development programs.
“Like the Udall Foundation itself, both Mark and Ashley are committed to educating Americans about the environmental issues impacting our national heritage,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program. “They are wonderful students and people, and are very deserving recipients of this honor. I am very proud of them.”
For more information on the 2009 Udall Scholars, see http://www.udall.gov/OurPrograms/MKUScholarship/MKUScholarship.aspx.