People who oppose consumptive use of wildlife often characterize hunters and trappers as "knuckle draggers" who reap the bounty of our land but never return anything of value to society. Not many folks in Alaska hold such a negative opinion of outdoorsmen (and women). However, even many supporters don't realize that consumptive users provide numerous financial benefits to students at the University of Alaska.
Friends and relatives of local hunters and trappers have established scholarships at the University of Alaska to commemorate the lives of these respected outdoorsmen. The primary purpose of these scholarships is to support the education of the next generation. In most cases, these awards are limited to a specific field of study or extra-curricular activity.
Lyle Carlson was an attorney in Fairbanks. He was also an avid hunter who was active in several outdoorsmen's groups such as the Tanana Valley Sportsmen's Association and the Alaska Outdoor Council. Carlson died in 1991 in an accident on his farm near Delta Junction. The Tanana Valley Bar Association spearheaded fundraising efforts to endow a scholarship in Carlson's name, with ample help from AOC. The endowment recently reached the threshold necessary for providing a monetary award, and the first recipient was named in 2005. The award is intended for students who major in wildlife biology or a related field.
The Alaska Trappers Association sponsors an annual scholarship in the name of longtime ATA patriarch Dean Wilson, who grew up in Northway. He trapped and operated a fur-buying business in Fairbanks for many years.
Wilson is now retired and living near Copper Center. Candidates for the scholarship must be graduate students in the field of wildlife biology and must support consumptive uses of wildlife. ATA funds the annual award out of its education budget.
Spencer Linderman was an area biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game when he died in a 1975 plane crash while conducting an aerial population survey. Linderman was an avid hunter, hunting guide and all-around outdoorsman prior to his untimely death. An endowed scholarship was created by friends and relatives in Linderman's name shortly after the accident.
The award is intended to " ... honor the outstanding senior or graduate student majoring in the field of wildlife biology ..." at UAF. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the award was presented to several individuals who went on to productive careers in Alaska.
The award was suspended for several years to allow the endowment to grow to a sustainable level. The scholarship will be presented in March of this year for the first time since 1994.
Local AOC leader Dick Bishop shares his thoughts regarding the scholarship efforts, "I've known all four men (Dixon, Carlson, Wilson, Linderman). They are fine examples of what an ethical hunter and trapper should be. It's completely appropriate that outdoorsmen and women honor these Alaskans, who led by example. By providing financial incentives to current and future generations of students, we hope to improve the level of wildlife management and research far into the future. That will be a fitting legacy to these fine men."
Kim Davis serves as the director of advancement services at UAF, and expresses the university's gratitude.
"We greatly appreciate the financial assistance provided to our students by these scholarships and awards which were established by the hunting and trapping community. We are honored to play a small part in recognizing these outstanding individuals through these named funds."
Other UAF scholarships in the natural resource arena are funded from a variety of sources. For example, national and international organizations such as the Boone & Crockett Club, Safari Club and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provide funds for this purpose. However, we focused on the four scholarships described above to demonstrate that local hunters and trappers "put their money where their mouths are" when it comes to supporting higher education.
Any students interested in learning more about scholarships at UAF are advised to contact the scholarship coordinator at 474-5372 or scholarships@ uaf.edu.
Randy Zarnke lives in Fairbanks.