By John W. Stewart, III
President, University of Montevallo
MONTEVALLO, Ala. – While we’re positive there are no stuffy classrooms at the University of Montevallo, there is a chance that during a lecture some students occasionally find their thoughts turning toward the world outside their windows.
For the past year at Montevallo, we have had the perfect program for those whose thoughts and dreams for the future are tied to the outdoors. The President’s Outdoor Scholars Program rewards current and future students with scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 per student per year, for four years as long as the student maintains a 2.5 grade point average. These grants help provide the scholarship recipients the opportunity to earn a college degree while also taking an active role in preserving our state’s natural resources.
We are pleased that the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association has joined with the university to boost the Outdoor Scholars Program. The not-for-profit group that advocates for Alabama’s Black Belt region will play host to Montevallo students at various facilities for outdoor-related field trips that can include hunting and fishing excursions, land management and conservation programs and other adventure educational opportunities such as canoeing, hiking and camping.
The most recent collaboration between UM and ALBBAA was a visit by the Outdoor Scholars to Gusto, a private quail preserve where the students observed and were instructed on timber species, plant composition, the importance of prescribed burning and the overall integration of habitat improvement practices to support quail and other wildlife. In addition, our students took part in feeding the cattle on the property as they learned more about proper care of livestock. Farm-to-table culinary practices were demonstrated with wild game preparation and cooking methods followed by lunch which featured stuffed quail. Students had access to Gusto’s fishing lakes following lunch.
ALBBAA will also partner with UM’s Outdoor Scholars Program to share costs for advertising our unique educational program – that we believe is the only one like it in the nation. This partnership will help Montevallo expand its advertising reach while sharing the news about the great tourism opportunities available in the Black Belt with a new audience.
Thomas Harris, ALBBAA founder and chairman recently addressing our students said, “These young people are excited about the outdoors, have a strong connection to the land and view stewardship of our wild places as something they can be committed to for a lifetime. The Alabama Black Belt offers hundreds of wonderful places to enjoy the outdoors and to have hands-on learning experiences. We are thrilled to know that we will be able to help them further their education.”
I agree wholeheartedly with him. The experimental learning opportunities provided through this partnership will allow our Outdoor Scholars Program to continue to thrive and benefit our students, our university and our state.
The University of Montevallo’s Presidents Outdoor Scholars Program is committed to educating the next generation on the values of work ethic and conservation to lead the way in protecting our heritage for the benefits of our wildlife, lands and natural resources.
Visit www.outdoorscholars.montevallo.edu for more information.
The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association is a non-profit organization committed to promoting and enhancing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities in the Black Belt in a manner that provides economic and ecological benefits to the region and its citizens.
For information, go to www.alabamablackbeltadventures.org.