Chelsea Steffes, Wittenberg class of 2018, has received an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scholarship, which is awarded to students in their final year of study who have demonstrated through their work or research a commitment to a career in environmental science.
“These scholarships will allow some very accomplished students to complete their degrees and join the ranks of scientists dedicated to understanding and enhancing the environment,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler.
Steffes, from Moon Township, Pa., is one of 12 environmental science and engineering students awarded the scholarship to study at Ohio colleges and universities this year through the Ohio EPA’s Environmental Education Fund. Students in four-year programs will receive a $2,500 scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year.
“Student engagement in real community problems, whether in their courses, internships, and directed research, is a hallmark of our environmental science program,” said John Ritter, professor of geology at Wittenberg. “Chelsea’s participation has not only provided her an opportunity to examine different aspects of the environmental profession, but also put her at an advantage in a very competitive scholarship program. We are proud of her accomplishment.”
A double major in environmental science and economics, Steffes has worked on numerous environmental projects at Wittenberg. Next semester, she plans to conduct research analyzing storm water impacts and possible remediation for the new Health, Wellness and Athletics facility that is currently under construction on campus.
“In [Associate Profess of Geology and Environmental Science Sarah] Fortner’s environmental research methods class, we did a project that analyzed soil lead levels in a potential community garden plot for the Promise Neighborhood,” said Steffes, who worked this past summer at the FedEx Ground Headquarters in Pittsburgh in their Environmental Compliance Division. “We found extremely low levels, and it is now a community garden. I also helped with a project that senior Kelsey Mack was conducting last fall. I helped her take samples of zooplankton in residential detention ponds. Our hypothesis was that higher income areas would have less zooplankton biodiversity than lower income areas because they use more pesticides and fertilizers.”
Steffes is a member of Power (Green Club), a Student Organizations Senator, a student worker for the Wittenberg Series, a faculty aide, a resident advisor and an event planner for the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative.
“I am not really sure what I want to do in the future,” Steffes said. “I have thought about possibly going into a government role or possibly a nonprofit. Wittenberg has really helped me open my horizons to so many different avenues that I can take my degree. I am not limited in what I can pursue.”
A total of $30,000 was awarded this year by the Ohio EPA to students. Since the scholarship program began in 2000, $817,450 has been awarded statewide to 332 students at 46 Ohio colleges and universities. Steffes is the fifth Wittenberg student to receive this award. Funding comes from civil penalties collected by Ohio EPA for violations of air and water pollution control laws. The scholarship program is administered by the Ohio Academy of Science.
The next application deadline for scholarships is April 15, 2018. Additional information about the scholarship is available by calling Ohio EPA’s Office of Environmental Education at (614) 644-2873 or visiting www.epa.ohio.gov/oee. To learn more about the Ohio Academy of Science, call (614) 488-2228 or visit www.OHIOSCI.org.