WASHINGTON, May 23, 2006 - Eighteen college students nationwide have been selected to research environmental issues in Washington, D.C. and South Africa through a new Environmental Leadership Program developed by Nissan North America and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The program aims to empower young leaders on U.S. college campuses to become effective advocates for the environment.
Each selected student receives a Nissan-WWF Environmental Leadership Award, which includes a $5,000 cash award and an opportunity to participate in both a four-day environmental summit in Washington, D.C. and an all-expenses-paid research expedition to South Africa organized by Earthwatch Institute. The award winners represent a diverse range of backgrounds and academic achievements, from spearheading environmental protection and conservation activities on their campuses and in their communities, to developing new engineering technologies to purify polluted water.
During the environmental summit, June 24-28, students will gather in the nation's capital to participate in a series of workshops, presentations and field visits, as well as leadership development and cross-cultural training activities to help prepare them for leadership roles in the global community. On an educational field trip to the Chesapeake Bay, the students will gain exposure to environmental challenges and ways of addressing them. On visits to Capitol Hill, the World Bank, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency, participants will meet with officials to explore issues such as wildlife protection and environmental justice.
In early August, these young environmental leaders will travel to South Africa for a two-week research expedition organized by Earthwatch Institute. They will work side-by-side with conservation scientists in Pilanesberg National Park and nearby wildlife reserves assessing the value of protected areas for brown hyenas and other carnivores. The students will also take part in photographic safaris and cultural events in communities near the park.
An independent panel of experts selected the winners from a competitive pool of applicants from eligible universities in five states, including California, Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Selection was based on students' academic achievement, leadership ability and demonstrated commitment to the environment. In addition to the 18 first-place prize winners, seven students won second-place cash awards of $1,000 each.
The student award is part of a new $1 million partnership between Nissan and WWF that will also support WWF field conservation work in Southern Africa and the Southeastern United States. This includes work in Southern Africa's Namib-Karoo area, which is plagued by poor land management and ongoing wildlife destruction. In the United States, it will support WWF's Southeastern Rivers and Streams Support Fund, which awards grants for grassroots projects to clean up polluted watersheds in Tennessee and Alabama.