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Meet Our 2019 Scholarship recipients

Northern Michigan University | Environmental Science & Natural Resources

Born and raised in Negaunee, Jacklyn says she has a “special pride” for the natural beauty of northern Michigan. “It's because of my love for the outdoors that I was inspired to pursue a degree in Environmental Science at Northern Michigan University,” she said. “I am thankful every day that I get to call the Upper Peninsula my home.”  


At Northern, Jacklyn is involved with the NMU Conservation Crew which helps with local trail clean ups, trash collection events, and other community outreach programs. She also has helped put on the school’s Environmental Science Camp which engages high school students from urban communities throughout the Midwest with scientists and explores how technology and field experiences are used to study environmental change and sustainability. Jacklyn leads daily activities with those students ranging from water chemistry studies and local geology tours to outdoor survival skill workshops.


In addition to her studies and two part-time jobs, Jacklyn volunteers with Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve to do water quality assessments and aquatic invertebrate observations. She was also recently accepted into MSU Extension’s Lake & Stream Leaders Institute. After completing her bachelor's degree, Jacklyn plans to attend graduate school to study biology. She is particularly interested in research on wetlands and amphibian conservation. 

Magkena Szemak ~ ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN 
Central Michigan University | 
Environmental Science & Community Health

Magkena is a third-year honors students at Central Michigan University majoring in environmental science and minoring in community health. By bringing these two fields of study together, she hopes to address environmental health concerns impacting marginalized communities in Michigan and elsewhere.  

At Central, Magkena conducts undergraduate research and community outreach efforts with the Institute for Great Lakes Research. She is counselor for the 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp in Presque Isle facilitated by MSU Extension. She also serves as the Vice President of Scouting & Youth Services for the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity coordinating weekly activities on the CMU campus and in the local community to help people learn about the environment. She is a volunteer mentor with Adopt-a-Grandparent, CMU’s Alternative Spring Breaks Program, the Honors Outreach Network and the Flint Active Crisis Team. 

“When reading the description of John Muter, I was reminded of my dad who is an avid outdoors man himself. He encouraged me to participate in Girl Scouts and 4-H, while spending every summer swimming, hiking, camping, fly fishing and wind surfing…I’m thankful I was taught these skills so that I am able to share them,” she said. “The love of the outdoors isn’t something everyone has—it must be fostered. I’m committed to engaging new audiences with our natural resources because I believe everyone should have a chance to develop a connection with Michigan’s outdoors.”

Saginaw Valley State University | Biology & Chemistry

Jacob is entering his final year at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) where he is studying both biology and chemistry. He currently serves as the president of The Biology Club at SVSU and, in his tenure, has helped the organization become more engaged with the community by fostering new partnerships with local nature and outdoor-oriented organizations. Through the Biology Club, Jacob has collaborated with the Chippewa Nature Center and has helped facilitate outreach activities at their annual Rock Show, the Maple Syrup Festival, and Experience Earth Day events. 


“Each of these programs encourage community members of all ages to come out and explore what Michigan’s outdoors has to offer. But these events are especially focused on getting the next generation of kids excited about nature,” he said. “There is nothing quite like the feelings of hope and joy stirred by the proud smile of a child who has just helped you plant a tree and understanding that the outdoors you love will be left in good hands.”

In addition to his outreach activities, Jacob is passionate about research. He has conducted independent and collaborative research projects on topics ranging from animal behavior to environmental health of the Saginaw Bay watershed. As a researcher with the Dow Science & Sustainability Education Center, Jacob has also mentored high school students interested in research. After finishing his studies at SVSU, he plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in conservation research. 

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