The Coos Bay Chapter of Surfrider recently awarded over $3,000 in scholarships to Coos County students headed to college this semester who’ve demonstrated strong leadership in their community for the protection of oceans, waves and beaches. The scholarship program was initiated in 2003 by local Marshfield High School science teacher George Tinker and since the Coos Bay Chapter officially took over the program in 2013, they’ve grown this annual opportunity by seven times it’s original offering!

In my nearly 10 years now as staff with Surfrider Foundation in Oregon, I’ve come to realize that there is no greater investment in our coasts than well-informed leaders at the community level with a strong ethic of stewardship, community engagement and civic organizing. And while you won’t read this in our mission statement, this is really the heart of the Surfrider Foundation chapter network model – it’s our not so secret sauce to invest in building leaders and strong community capacity as a means to protect our oceans, waves and beaches. Our Coos Bay Chapter more than exemplifies this type of leadership ethic (award-winning for that matter) and in turn, invests in future leaders through a number of programs for local youth.

Kori Nemec Scholarship award winner 2016

Kori Nemec – scholarship award winner 2016

This year, the chapter is recognizing 4 outstanding Coos Bay County high school students as part of their Environmental and Natural Science Scholarship Program: Kori Nemec of Bandon High School, Abbey Knight, Hannah Schandelmeier-Lynch and Tyler Laskey all of North Bend High School. Kori was a strong leader in the chapter’s new youth club at Bandon High School and was awarded the largest scholarship for her ongoing leadership and devotion on a range of activities such as local water quality monitoring. The chapter recognizes the role they themselves currently play in their community and most importantly, the need to steward and develop leaders of the next generation. We enjoyed Kori’s application essay so much, we just had to share what the next generation of leaders sound like:

A role model is someone who demonstrates good qualities not only through the success they achieve but also through their behavior. My goal is to be a role model through my accomplishments, determination and character. I am attending the University of Oregon and I will maintain a grade point average of a 3.8 or better. Before graduating college, I hope to study abroad in Europe to learn about other cultures. I plan to get degrees in both environmental studies and business and then attend law school. My career aspiration is to become an environmental lawyer and to make a positive contribution to the world. Students of The University of Oregon are currently studying the cause and effects of Climate Change. This intrigues me greatly and I intend to participate this year. My passion for the environment and for animals has inspired me greatly and I hope to influence others.

One of my top priorities ever since I was a little girl has been caring for animals and our environment. I started volunteering at local beach clean-ups when I was only a second grader. Seeing all the trash gave me a greater respect for the environment, especially for our beaches. It is always surreal to me how much garbage we pick up. I am extremely grateful for the lessons I learned when I was young and still value the importance of respecting our environment.

This scholarship will help me reach my goals and I will forever be thankful for the support. My contribution to the environment in the future will be my hard work to protect it as well as all animals and preserving their rights. It is time for everyone to make a change in how we treat our world and as an attorney, I will have the legal power and voice to make a positive difference. – Kori Nemec