The University of Montana

04/18/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/18/2024 11:14

UM Names Wyss Scholars for Conservation

MISSOULA - The University of Montana has announced its most recent Wyss Scholars for U.S. Conservation. They are:

  • Hannah Adkins of Parkersburg, West Virginia.
  • Sidney Fellows of Fort Hall, Idaho.
  • Aylan Lee of Glen Ellen, California.
  • Kelsey Phillips of Chicago.
  • William Rose of San Diego.
  • Amishi Singh of Houston.
  • Meridian Wappett of Moscow, Idaho.

The prestigious scholarship provides financial support to UM students committed to careers in U.S. land conservation through a federal, state or tribal land management agency or nonprofit. Funded through the Wyss Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to land conservation, the scholarship supports a portion of a master's degree at UM.

The University's Environmental Studies Program, housed in the College of Humanities and Sciences, administers the Wyss Scholars program with UM's W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation and the Alexander Blewett III School of Law.


Adkins completed dual undergraduate degrees in zoology and environmental science at Miami University of Ohio. She joined UM's Environmental Studies master's program in fall 2023 with a focus on improving watershed health. Adkins quickly joined MontPIRG, dove into addressing long-standing issues compromising the Clark Fork River watershed around Missoula and then became a board member.

"Coming from a community with limited access to resources and witnessing the degradation of areas of immense beauty and ecological richness, my overarching goal is to empower individuals in such communities to lead more sustainable lives," Adkins said.


Fellows completed her undergraduate degree at Idaho State University and then worked extensively for tribal and nonprofit organizations involved with conservation. She joined UM's Environmental Studies master's program in fall 2022.

Her focus blended traditional ecological knowledge and western science approaches to understanding and preserving native plant biodiversity, especially cultural plants of Indigenous peoples and engaging communities with those species and the land.

Fellows said she is "inspired to support and create healthy ecosystems because they are essential to the health of my tribal community, whose cultural identity is dependent on natural environments."

She completed a summer internship with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Environmental Waste Management Program, identifying areas of the reservation contaminated by mining waste for restoration. Fellows envisions a career in tribal plant conservation.


Lee graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in geography, completed a master's degree in that field at Portland State University and is currently enrolled at UM's law school.

He worked in river recreation for 12 years, moving from guide to operations manager for a rafting adventure company. His commitment to conservation is evidenced by his joining the board of directors for the Great Burn Conservation Alliance in 2021.

Lee completed a summer internship with the U.S. Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resource Division, working on public lands and natural resources cases that included tribal trust resources.

He hopes to "engage directly with environmental issues" and seeks to "provide direct service in the public interest" as a lawyer following graduation.


Phillips is committed to recreation management and actively involved in river conservation. She graduated with a biology degree from University of Wisconsin in 2012, then worked in a lab at Northwestern University before becoming a team leader with Montana Conservation Corps.

Phillips enrolled in UM's Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management master's program at UM last year and continues to be an avid advocate for federally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. She describes herself as "passionate about balancing conservation and accessibility."

This past summer she interned with American Whitewater. Post-graduation, she hopes to work as a recreation manager to "establish best practices for allocating recreation resources in the face of increased use and dynamic environments."


Rose became inspired by America's public lands and seeks to protect wildlife and American Indian tribal interests. He graduated with degrees in international relations and German studies from Tufts University in 2014, then traveled and worked in the outdoor recreation industry across the American West before joining UM's Alexander Blewett III School of Law in 2022.

Rose plans to use his education to be an advocate for the protection of wildlife, as well as to explore the ways in which the interests of Tribes and environmental groups can be aligned to preserve and restore America's wild spaces.

Post-graduation, he hopes to work as a conservation nonprofit attorney.


Singh graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in environmental science and resource management and is currently enrolled in UM's Environmental Studies master's degree program.

She was raised in central Texas. Following her move to the Pacific Northwest, she became interested in how science was translated into policy, especially in watershed management and water conservation.

Singh's commitment to conservation is evidenced by her work with the Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Oregon Sea Grant. She has a strong interest in social equity as well, working as a community organizing fellow with Forward Montana and as president of the Seattle chapter of Amnesty International.

Singh believes it is "vital that we have good policy in place that balances healthy and just human populations with conservation needs that ensure the continued health of the landscapes we exist in."


Wappett graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science in conservation and restoration ecology from Utah State University before entering UM's Alexander Blewett III School of Law in 2022. Wappett spent her youth floating the wild rivers and hiking the winding trails of the American West, forging a deep commitment to conservation.

She has worked with conservation nonprofits ranging from Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to Idaho Rivers United, seeking to educate, inform and organize citizens. Wappett also worked on a congressional campaign as the communications director.

She said her "life course is defined by my unwavering commitment to conserving our public lands and wild places."

After law school, Wappett aims to work as a public interest environmental lawyer, protecting the lands and waters of the nation either in government or a nonprofit.


Contact: Len Broberg, UM Environmental Studies Program, 406-243-5209, [email protected].