Grace Fuchs

Grace Fuchs

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OHIO student is one of 40 to receive national Udall Scholarship award

Ohio University sophomore Grace Fuchs is one of 40 students to receive the nationally competitive Udall Scholarship award. The Udall Foundation awards a $7,000 scholarship to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment. Scholars will also attend a five-day conference in Tucson, Arizona.

Fuchs is an Honors Tutorial College environmental studies major. After college, she aspires to be a liaison between scientists and community advocacy groups, to engage both communities and integrate both sets of knowledge.

While in college, Fuchs has worked with Ohio University’s Sierra Student Coalition, addressing a variety of environmental issues on campus and in the local Athens community.

As a Voinovich scholar, she works with the grassroots community group Torch Can Do. This group, comprised of mostly women, advocates against the injection wells and fracking waste in the Athens community, which has the highest amount of fracking waste of any other Ohio county. She also volunteers with a local watershed management group, developing community-based solutions such as education and outreach to safeguard the long-term prosperity of people and the environment. 

Fuchs has been passionate about environmental issues such as water pollution and environmental justice since middle school. “I’ve always been concerned about environmental issues, and my parents pushed me to see how racial or economic equalities played into that,” Fuchs said.

Fuchs recalls talking about environmental racism in church at the age of 10 or 11, which inspired her passion today. In 1978, the United Church of Christ released its findings from a study that referred to intentionally selecting communities of color for toxic wastes facilities and disposal sites. This study was one of the first published papers about environmental justice and racism. 

“I just don’t think it’s right that disenfranchised people bare the brunt of the environmental [waste facilities],” she said.

During the five-day Udall Scholar Orientation Fuchs will attend this summer, scholars will work together on a case study, learn new ways to collaborate, and network with professionals and students working on environmental and Native American issues.

Fuchs is looking forward to expanding her knowledge on environmental issues and tactics to solve them. She is also eager to learn about the impact of Native American issues because she believes those issues often get overlooked in environmental justice. 

“I’m really looking forward to meeting other environmentally-oriented students and hearing about what research they’re doing,” Fuchs said. “I’m incredibly excited to see what issues are important in their local community, how they address them and how I can learn from that [to] bring it back to Athens.”

The Udall Scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, whose careers had a significant impact on Native American self-governance, health care, and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources.