Scholarships awarded to NJ environmental students

NEWARK, NJ — For almost as long as it has existed as a member-supported, nonprofit land trust, the Land Conservancy of New Jersey has been providing scholarships to residents of New Jersey pursuing degrees in environmental science, natural resource management, conservation, park administration and related fields. For the past 36 years, this program has been rewarding environmental scholars who plan to pursue careers protecting the natural resources of their home state. 

The $7,500 Rogers Family Scholarship went to Newark resident Toyosi Dickson, a recent Rutgers graduate whose deep involvement in her campus and devotion to her community has earned her the Reich Scholarship, Dr. Samuel D. & Anne E. Faust Memorial Award, and a place in the George H. Cook Honors program at Rutgers. In between all research, she found time to dedicate herself to her EOF program’s Community of Students Involved ’N’ Education, or COSINE, Club as the chairperson for professional development. Dickson is going on to pursue a master’s degree in environmental justice at the University of Michigan — a place she has already gotten to know as a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar. 

This year there were more applicants than ever, and the competition was tough. The committee reviewed 20 applications from current undergraduate and graduate students, paring down the candidates to five whom they wanted to interview via Zoom. From this pool of qualified individuals, Dickson and Jessica Zhao were chosen. 

“TLCNJ is proud to be able to help these two outstanding women achieve their career goals,” said Rick Simon, who led the conservancy’s scholarship committee. “It was a pleasure for our entire committee to meet Toyosi and Jessica, as well as all of the applicants we interviewed. It was exciting and inspiring to hear about the leading-edge discoveries and breakthroughs they are all involved in, related to clean water, land preservation and combating climate change. Our only regret is that we are financially limited to these two scholarships, since each year we meet more and more truly remarkable young people who are making a huge difference in this field.” 

Both students are up for the challenge. 

“You would think that the award money is the most important thing to me about this scholarship, but it’s not,” Dickson said. “This is the culmination of all my hard work finally being valued and recognized; it’s earned me this scholarship and admission into graduate school. It tells me that others — professionals in my field — value my research studying the impact of environmental decisions on underrepresented communities, and I am further determined to go the distance.”

The Rogers Family Scholarship was established in 2005 by Gray and Mollie Rogers, dedicated conservationists who wanted to expand the Land Conservancy’s educational support for outstanding students passionate about protecting the natural environment. Gray Rogers is a trustee emeritus of the Land Conservancy.