Jennifer Schmidt '14 has been named a 2013 Udall Scholar, an honor that is awarded to sophomore and junior-level college students committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Schmidt's award is for pursuing a career in the environment. The $5,000 scholarship provides the opportunity for students to attend the week-long Udall conference in the summer, which holds workshops on environmental leadership and offers the chance to network with other students with similar interests.
The scholarship was awarded to 50 students nationwide from 43 colleges and universities, selected from 488 candidates. Other Claremont Colleges Udall awardees were Pitzer students Keiko Budech '14 and Jess Grady-Benson '14.
Schmidt, an environmental analysis (EA) major and EA student liaison, started out as a neuroscience major and then realized along the way that her passions lay elsewhere. She designed her own EA track focusing on sustainable agriculture, which in part she attributes to her parents' introducing her to gardening at a young age. She also chalks it up to getting her hands dirty at Pomona.
"[Gardening has] always been something I enjoyed, but I didn't think of pursuing it as a career until coming to Pomona and getting involved with the Farm and the compost program. The more involved I became with Farm Club, the compost program and various sustainability projects around campus, the more I realized that the work was something I enjoyed and believed in," says Schmidt, who is currently helping to develop a half-credit Farm internship course.
Professor of Geology and Environmental Analysis Richard Hazlett, who has worked closely with Schmidt on the Farm and directed her independent study, says the Udall award is well-deserved. "Jennifer is a brilliant student…she has good scientific head sense in terms of putting together practice at the Farm from what she has learned about the life sciences," he says.
But her efforts go well beyond the Farm. She has worked with the College's dining halls to introduce post-consumer composting through a President's Sustainability Fund grant. With the same grant, she worked with the Coop Fountain on composting and reusable containers. Additionally, she is involved with Pomona for Environmental Activism and Responsibility (PEAR).
In recognition of her commitment to sustainable agriculture, Schmidt was also awarded the Annie's Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship, which supports students who will pursue farming. Schmidt's other honors include an honorable mention by Udall last year; the Brueckner Grant, which is awarded by Pomona's German Department to one student each year to pursue an independent research project in Germany; and Phi Beta Kappa honors this spring. Since her freshman year, she has been a Pomona College Scholar, which recognizes the top 25 percent of academic classes based on cumulative GPA.
Schmidt is minoring in German and currently studying abroad in Freiberg, Germany. When she's not studying, composting or farming at Pomona, she plays Ultimate Frisbee with The Claremont Greenshirts and intramural soccer, and leads On the Loose hiking trips.
Schmidt's parents are Rodney and Elizabeth Schmidt, who live in Seattle, and she is a graduate of Lakeside School.