David B. Schroeder Scholarship supports students preparing for careers in natural resources

David Schroeder
David Schroeder

The David B. Schroeder Scholarship was established in memory of David B. Schroeder, professor emeritus and former head of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE). The scholarship provides support for outstanding seniors enrolled full-time as majors in the department. Schroeder enjoyed a career at UConn that spanned forty-one years, until his retirement in 2006. He died in 2015, at the age of 80.

This year’s Schroeder Scholarship recipient, Michaela Poppick, is an NRE major with a focus in fisheries and wildlife conservation and a minor in environmental studies. On receiving the scholarship, she said, “I am primarily responsible for paying for my own education, and scholarships have made the difference between going to college and not. It’s been really important that I keep up my grades to be able to attend grad school and receive internships, but I also want to show that I really am passionate and appreciative for what others have contributed to my education.”

Poppick spent last summer as an intern with the Nature Conservancy on Rhode Island’s Block Island, involved in animal protection programs, serving as a trail guide and working with youth. “The people I worked with were inspiring. They were very passionate about their work. I really felt like I was doing something to impact Block Island in a positive way.”

After attending a three-week African field ecology course at Entabeni Game Reserve in Limpopo, South Africa, in the spring of 2017, Poppick stayed on to work as an intern for the summer, providing information to guests, assisting with rhinos, elephants and hippos and using telemetry to locate and observe the health condition of a mother cheetah and her young.

Michaela Poppick caving in South Africa
Michaela Poppick caving in South Africa

This semester, Poppick is assisting the Aspetuck Land Trust by creating an iNaturalist web page and app. Nature enthusiasts enjoying the property upload and share photos of plants and animals, also providing scientists with data to track organisms living on the land trust. iNaturalist is a worldwide nature app connecting over 750,000 scientists and naturalists. Poppick’s next project is to create an app how-to video for the land trust staff.

Poppick is considering graduate school but may work for a year or so before continuing her education. Her goal is to be involved in conservation. “I want to make a difference and bridge the gap between scientists and the public, so they can communicate better,” she says.

Emily McInerney completed her BS degree in May 2015, with a concentration in climate and water resources and a minor in geology.

“I am very thankful for the Schroeder Scholarship. It helped me reach my education goals, which  led me to join the Peace Corps. Scholarships like the Schroeder Scholarship are incredibly important for supporting students so they can continue their studies.”

McInerney has served in the Peace Corps for the past two years, at a site in Agua Zarca, Mexico, where she is an environmental education volunteer working with various environmental groups.

She says, “Despite recent changes in the United States, people continue to be welcoming and interested in engaging in conversation with me to learn my perspectives and feelings about the situation in the U.S. I have met many wonderful people, several of whom have had a profound effect on my life, for which I am incredibly grateful. They have shared their homes with me, many cups of coffee and plates of delicious Mexican food, family outings and, most importantly, their culture.”

After completing her Peace Corps service, McInerney plans to attend graduate school. She is interested in environmental justice and international environmental policy and would like to one day work for a nonprofit organization.

Emily McInerney with students in Agua Zarca
Emily McInerney with students in Agua Zarca

“Long term, I hope to work internationally with the government to shape policy that reflects both human rights and environmental values,” she says. “I am especially interested in shared water resources, access to sustainable food systems and the impacts of climate change in the developing world.”

While a student at UConn, McInerney received a SURF grant to conduct field research for her honors thesis, in which she collected greenhouse gas samples from constructed wetlands located on Horsebarn Hill. She also worked as an intern for UConn’s Office of Environmental Policy and helped organize the Earth Day Spring Fling during her four years as a student.

“My favorite memory was when I attended the Climate March in NYC, for which I helped organize UConn’s participation. Being a part of such a monumental moment in history was very rewarding.”

Bailey McNichol graduated in December 2015, earning a BS in sustainable forest resources and a BA in Spanish. This December, she will complete her MS in forest resources at the University of Georgia, where she focused on entomology, researching the southern pine beetle and several pine engraver species.

Bailey McNichol
Bailey McNichol

“I felt lucky as an out-of-state student to be able to attend UConn,” McNichol says. “I was excited about the faculty and opportunities available. I was able to find a place for myself at UConn and fully immersed myself in the experience. I appreciated every single day I was on campus, and the fact that I had access to a high-quality education and faculty that cared about me as a person and pushed me to keep learning. Having the additional financial support of scholarships made it easier in terms of my debt after graduation.”

“I came in as an education major, but decided I wanted a stronger science background. The natural resources program gave me the opportunity to spend time outdoors and get excited about forestry.”

McNichol plans to continue her education with a Ph.D. related to forest ecology and tree physiology. She would like to attend a school in Minnesota, Oregon or New Mexico, to study forests in a different part of the country. “I want to shift my focus from entomology to broad forest ecology,” she says.

Long term, McNichol is interested in an academic appointment that involves extension. She would also be open to a state-level forestry agency combined with an adjunct faculty appointment or position at a community college.

“I want to do something that involves research and teaching with a strong outreach component, “McNichol says. “I feel passionate about spreading scientific information to the broader public and increasing awareness of what scientists do and why that is important. I’d like to get people excited about understanding their environment and getting students outside and engaged with the material.”

McNichols particularly enjoyed classes at UConn that were taught by professors with decades of experience in the forestry field.

“I’d love to someday be that person with a large body of experience accumulated through teaching and research and sharing that enthusiasm with other people,” she says. “It’s so much more inspiring and fun as a student when the person teaching really cares about what they are doing.”

By Kim Colavito Markesich





One thought on “David B. Schroeder Scholarship supports students preparing for careers in natural resources

  1. Michaela
    I was so impressed by this article both by what you had to say and what you have already accomplished. Keep up the good work!

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