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Ohio University student earns nationally competitive Morris K. Udall Scholarship

ATHENS, Ohio (April 28, 2006) -- Ohio University student Rachel Cook has been named a Morris K. Udall Scholar for 2006. Cook, a junior Honors Tutorial College (HTC) student studying English and environmental studies, joins just 80 other students selected from among 445 candidates nationwide.

Photo by Rick FaticaAlong with $5,000 for her college expenses, Cook will receive an award at the Udall Scholars assembly in Tucson, Ariz., August 2-6. There, she and other award winners will meet policy-makers and community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care and governance.

"I've worked at Ohio University for 30 years, and of all the students I've taught, Rachel is among the very best," says Ted Bernard, professor emeritus of geography and Cook's HTC tutor.

"I think she is able to make a contribution to environmental studies like that of Rachel Carson," Bernard says. Carson, biologist and author of Silent Spring, was dubbed by many as the founder of the contemporary environmental movement.

Cook, a co-editor of non-fiction for Sphere literary magazine, has worked as a research assistant at the Voinovich Center and has taught with the Athens Middle School creative writing program for three years.

"The Udall Scholarship is one of most affirming recognitions I have received," Cook says. "This has given me the confidence to pursue something outside of my discipline and to know that I can make a difference."

Cook recently conducted research with Bernard on acid mine drainage and contributed to a chapter of Bernard's forthcoming book Islands of Possibility.

"Rachel wants to combine her exceptional talent of writing to communicate environmental issues to the reading public," Bernard says. "She's far ahead of curve for both these things."

Cook's current research focuses on coal mining. "I grew up in southeast Ohio, and my father was a coal miner," says Cook. "After I came to Ohio University, I began to reconnect to my own background—to look at problems in Appalachia and connect them to the environment."

Next year Cook will travel to South Africa to conduct research for her honors thesis, which will examine and compare issues for miners in South Africa and Appalachia.

Along with Bernard, Rachel recognizes Bob DeMott, distinguished professor of English; Nancy Manring, associate professor of political science; and Ann Fidler, dean of the Honors Tutorial College, as instrumental in her success.

"This scholarship is the result of the dedication of my professors and mentors," Cook says. "They encouraged me not only in academic studies, but also by providing the vision and the opportunity to dream."

The Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Foundation, named for Congressman Udall, honors his three decades of service in the House of Representatives and his legacy of public service. Udall's love for the environment inspired such legislation as the Alaska Lands Act of 1980, which doubled the size of the national park system and tripled our national wilderness.

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Media Contact: Director of Nationally Competitive Awards Ann Brown (740)593-2725, browna@ohio.edu, or Media Relations Coordinator Jessica Stark (740)597-2938, starkj@ohio.edu

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