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2014 Scholarship Recipients

August 1, 2014 Announcement from Dean Jeff Rutenbeck: I'm pleased to announce this year's recipients of the Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarships: Vanina Harel, Marilyn Stone, Jamey Warner, and Nick Zachar

The scholarship was set up in 2013 by Professor Chris Palmer and his wife, Gail Shearer, to honor Chris's parents. Chris and Gail established an endowment to support the scholarship. Income from the fund is awarded annually, based on merit, to outstanding SOC graduate students with an interest in environmental and wildlife filmmaking.

Nick Zachar

Vanina Harel studied biology at the University of Bristol in the UK after leaving Mauritius five years ago and is now enrolled in the MFA in Film and Electronic Media at American University. She is passionate about making environmental and wildlife films that make a difference through entertainment. Last summer, she spent two months in South Africa and Botswana working on a rhino conservation project, for which she is currently producing a short documentary. She is also the associate producer on a short film about sustainable farming in the Piedmont region for the Prince Charitable Trusts. This summer, she is interning at National Geographic channel, and in the research stage of a documentary on coral reef conservation in Mauritius. 

Nick Zachar

Marilyn Stone is teaching filmmaking to young students in Virginia and working as a photographer for Wesley Theological Seminary. While earning her B.S. in Wildlife &Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University, Marilyn dreamed of a career as a wildlife filmmaker. During this time, she studied abroad in southern Africa and soon after painted a 120 square foot Texas wildlife mural in the wildlife sciences building. After graduation, she was able to film the first study abroad to Mongolia focused on snow leopard conservation genetics with the Texas A&M Vet College and the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Marilyn has also volunteered with Houston Zoo, a wildlife rehab clinic, museum educational animals, the Audubon Society, as well as modeled and acted.

Nick Zachar

Jamey Warner is a second year graduate student, a Marine Corps combat veteran, and currently works as an editor and cinematographer for Earth Focus, a nationally syndicated show featuring investigative reports and in-depth stories about our changing environment. He's produced and edited stories on the decline of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, combat veterans turning to sustainable farming, and impacts of climate change on national security. Jamey has shot in the middle of a honeybee swarm for a story about a third generation beekeeper who lost his hives due to harmful insecticide use nearby. He is currently shooting a story about a paralyzed veteran who has turned to surfing and who has created his own non-profit that trains rescue-to-service dogs for combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic injuries and post-traumatic stress.

Nick Zachar

Nick Zachar is a filmmaker currently pursuing his MFA in Film and Electronic Media. Nick's background in Biology has taken him to the Virgin Islands, where he traveled with a team of biologists on an expedition to aid efforts in the conservation of a critically endangered species of iguana. As a graduate student at American University, Nick has had the opportunity to film on the Chesapeake Bay aboard Coast Guard vessels and hike through Costa Rican rainforests. During his recent travels to Costa Rica he combined his passions for the natural world and film by documenting fellow graduate students addressing AU's commitment to carbon neutrality. Nick strives to find and share meaningful stories that shed light on environmental and wildlife issues, and he hopes that his films will inspire viewers to take action.

Congratulations to Vanina, Marilyn, Jamey, and Nick for earning the Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarships for this year.

Jeff Rutenbeck
Dean, SOC

2013 Scholarship Recipients

SOC Palmer Scholarship Recipients 2013-2014

June 24, 2013 Announcement from Dean Jeff Rutenbeck: I’m pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarship: Sarah Gulick and Erin Finicane.

The scholarship was recently set up by Professor Chris Palmer and his wife, Gail Shearer, to honor Chris’s parents. Chris and Gail made a $50,000 donation to SOC to establish an endowment to support the scholarship. Income from the fund is awarded annually, based on merit, to outstanding SOC graduate students with an interest in environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking.

Sarah and Erin, both MFA students, have fellowships through the Center for Environmental Filmmaking with the National Park Service, and are completing their thesis work in partnership with the NPS. They have developed an award-winning web film series titled America's Wilderness that celebrates the diversity of ecological values and human experiences within wilderness designated areas, the highest level of federal land protection in this country. To see films from the ongoing series, visit youtube.com/NPSWilderness.

Sarah is also working with the National Park Service on a video series about natural sound and soundscape protection. She has recently returned from being a Center for Environmental Filmmaking media mentor with Ocean for Life, a NOAA program that engages youth from the USA and the Middle East in cultural exchange and environmental education. She has worked internationally creating a film celebrating the sea turtle conservation efforts of a small village in Belize, and is excited to continue working on projects using sea turtles as ambassadors for our oceans. Sarah is driven to create projects and share stories that inspire positive excitement, engaging local youth and communities in celebrating unique cultures and conservation success stories and role models.

Erin specializes in transmedia advocacy and outreach, using digital storytelling as a tool to raise awareness and impact positive social change on issues relating to the environment and social justice. Before her work on the NPS Wilderness series, Erin coordinated an outreach initiative on affordable housing in Washington, D.C., producing a series of educational videos on tenants’ rights, developing bilingual discussion guides, and facilitating public forums around issues relating to affordable housing in the city. She now hopes to apply her expertise in community engagement to environmental and wildlife conservation effort by producing media and developing outreach that encourages audiences to become agents of change in their own communities.

Congratulations to Sarah and Erin for earning the Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarships for this year.

Jeff Rutenbeck
Dean, SOC