KAMIAH – The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Employee Association recently awarded four local high school graduates with the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Memorial Scholarship, which recognizes local youth who demonstrate a passion for National Forests and care for their communities. Scholarships were offered to high school students seeking to continue their education, and who live in communities near lands managed by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Applicants were asked to submit an essay describing their connection to the forest, which provided a remarkable look at ways students connect with nature and their local public lands.
This year’s $1,000 scholarship recipients were McKenzie Morris, Jarret Nuxoll, Kaitlyn Spets, and Kati Wilkins.
At Timberline High School, McKenzie Morris was involved in student government and athletics. She is also a member of 4-H. She will be attending Lewis–Clark State College, with a career goal of obtaining her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing.
“Though life is ever changing, my love for the North Fork and the Clearwater National Forest is not,” she wrote.
Jarret Nuxoll, a graduate of Clearwater Valley High School in Kooskia, wrote, “I have fond memories of making camps, picking flowers for my mom, and playing games with my family and friends. This hasn’t been necessarily an experience, but a lifestyle.”
Nuxoll stayed busy in high school through his positions as associated student body president, class vice president, class secretary and National Honor Society chapter president. He played football, basketball, and tennis and was also a Clearwater Basin Youth Conservation Corps crew member his junior year of high school. Through this, “I developed a deeper love for the woods that I had never had prior to the experience.”
Nuxoll will be attending Lewis–Clark State College and hopes to eventually obtain a bachelor’s degree in welding and own a welding business.
Kaitlyn Spets graduated from Grangeville High School this year, where she was the HOSA secretary, vice president and treasurer, along with involvement in the National Honor Society and North Idaho Science and Engineering Fair. Her extracurricular activities included playing in the school band and serving as senior editor for the yearbook.
“A distinct memory from my childhood is traveling to Coolwater Lookout to stay with my mom [who worked as a lookout] for a few weeks,” Spets wrote. “I remember the drive up to the lookout being rough and how amazed I was by how you could see everything for miles and miles.”
Spets will attend Boise State University, majoring in computer science.
Kati Wilkins was involved with the Associated Student Body, HOSA, and 4-H during her time at Kamiah High School. She played varsity volleyball, basketball. She was a National Honor Society member for three years, including one year serving as president.
“Ever since I was little, my favorite place to be has been outside,” wrote Wilkins in her scholarship essay. “I have been fortunate enough to experience the beauty of nature all over the United States… I realized that we have our little paradise, right here in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.”
Wilkins will attend Lewis–Clark State College and wants to pursue a degree in English secondary education.
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Memorial Scholarship was established in 2018 to honor Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests employees who have died. Funds for the scholarship are raised during an annual employee auction. Last year, Forest Service employees personally donated more than $2,000 for the 2019 scholarships. This was matched dollar–for–dollar by the TLC Foundation, which honors the memory of Tammy Clark, a Forest Service employee and Orofino resident who died in 2017 following her battle with cancer.