LAWRENCE — Laura Phillips, a junior at the University of Kansas, earned an honorable mention recognition from the Morris K. Udall and Stuart Udall Foundation in the competition to become 2020 Udall Scholars.
Phillips, from Perry, is majoring in classical languages and ecology, evolution & organismal biology. This year, 55 students from across the country received scholarships and an additional 55 earned an honorable mention.
These recognitions came from a pool of 429 applicants nominated by 199 colleges and universities.
Udall Undergraduate Scholarships recognize students who demonstrate leadership, public service and commitment in the fields of tribal public policy, native health care or the environment.
Phillips is the daughter of Jean Phillips and Steve Phillips. A graduate of Free State High School, Phillips has spent several summers in the Rocky Mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch, working on fire rehabilitation and forestry management, and leading backpacking treks for high schoolers interested in ecology.
Phillips said she was honored to be recognized for her work on environmental conservation, particularly from an organization like the Udall Foundation.
“It is incredible to think I have already had an impact on society,” she said. “I want to continue putting my knowledge, experience and passion to good use and push for a greener future. I think a lot about erosion and loss of top soil for agricultural systems, and, ultimately, I want to craft a future with sustainable food systems that can support a growing population without damaging the earth.”
At KU, the nomination process is coordinated by the Office of Fellowships. Students interested in applying for the Udall or other national scholarships should contact Anne Wallen, program director for the Office of Fellowships and campus representative for the Udall Scholarship.
“This is a meaningful recognition for Laura and her work. These scholarships draw competition from some of the best students in the country, and to be listed among these elite students and their accomplishments is something that Laura and KU can both celebrate,” Wallen said.
Phillips has been a coordinator at the Center for Community Outreach for the Earth program since her freshman year. Phillips focuses on sustainable gardening and food security within the program. She has also worked for the Kansas Trails Council to help build and publicize hiking trails, with a focus on conservation and sustainable trail building.
She has worked at the KU Monarch Watch Lab and recently began work on sustainable agriculture research with Maggie Wagner, assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology.