Four local graduates receive Forest Service memorial scholarships

Kamiah, Idaho (June 4, 2019) – The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Employee Association recently awarded four local high school graduates with the Nez Perce-Clearwater Jarett Nuxoll poses with Christine Bradbury, USFS during his 2019 NezClear Scholarship presentationNational Forests Memorial Scholarship, which recognizes local youth who demonstrate a passion for National Forests and care for their communities. Scholarships were offered to high school students seeking to continue their education, and who live in communities near lands managed by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Applicants were asked to submit an essay describing their connection to the forest, which provided a remarkable look at ways students connect with nature and their local public lands.

This year’s scholarship recipients were McKenzie Morris, Jarret Nuxoll, Kaitlyn Spets, and Kati Wilkins.

At Timberline High School, McKenzie Morris served as her Class Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. She was a varsity basketball and volleyball player as well has being involved in 4-H and organizing community cleanup events. “The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest has always had a special place in my heart,” Morris wrote in her scholarship essay, describing the summers she spent with her family recreating along the North Fork of the Clearwater River.

“The North Fork is where I learned to swim as a child, and where I learned to bait a hook and cast a fishing pole. … Every year, I wait impatiently for the snow to melt so my family and I can spend the entire day up there fishing,” Morris wrote. “The forest is so special to me. It is a place where I can go to lose track of time and forget all of the problems going on and just be.”

Morris will be attending Lewis–Clark State College, with a career goal of obtaining her Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing. “Though life is ever changing, my love for the North Fork and the Clearwater National Forest is not,” she wrote.

Jarret Nuxoll, a graduate of Clearwater Valley High School, found it easy to write his scholarship essay about his connection to the wilderness; “I live in the wilderness!” In his essay, Nuxoll recalled his childhood growing up on his family’s rural homestead. “I have fond memories of making camps, picking flowers for my mom, and playing games with my family and friends. This hasn’t been necessarily an experience, but a lifestyle.”

Nuxoll stayed busy in high school through his positions as Associated Student Body President, Class Vice President, Class Secretary, and National Honor Society Chapter President. He was a varsity football, basketball, and tennis player and stayed heavily involved in a variety of community organizations. He was also a Clearwater Basin Youth Conservation Corps crew member his junior year of high school, which he credits with furthering his love for the outdoors and the satisfaction that comes with a job well done. “That job was not a cake walk, but it wasn’t supposed to be. … I developed a deeper love for the woods that I had never had prior to the experience [with CBYCC], and truly appreciate everything this beautiful way of living has to offer. I truly live and breathe the wild, and always will!”

Nuxoll will be attending Lewis–Clark State College and hopes to eventually obtain a Bachelors Degree in welding and own a welding business.

Kaitlyn Spets graduated from Grangeville High School this year, where she was the HOSA Secretary, Vice President, and Treasurer along with involvement in the National Honor Society and North Idaho Science and Engineering Fair. Her extra–curricular activities included playing in the school band and serving as Senior Editor for the yearbook. She stayed active in her community through volunteerism, including organizing an annual blood drive. “Taking the time to give to someone else in need is a very rewarding thing,” she wrote.

Spets described how her unique childhood and time spent in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests helped shape the person she is today. “A distinct memory from my childhood is traveling to Coolwater Lookout to stay with my mom [who worked as a lookout] for a few weeks,” Spets wrote. “I remember the drive up to the lookout being rough and how amazed I was by how you could see everything for miles and miles.”

“There were so many instances during this trip that were unlike anything else I’ve experienced before or even since then,” she continued. “I’ve seen quite a bit of [the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests] in my life, and I’ve never come out of an experience in the forest with regret. This forest will continue to be a place where I make memories with my friends and family.”

Spets will attend Boise State University, majoring in Computer Science.

Kati Wilkins was involved with the Associated Student Body, HOSA, and 4-H during her time at Kamiah High School. She played varsity volleyball, basketball, and track in addition to volunteering at sports events for middle school students and helping to organize youth volleyball camps. She was a National Honor Society member for three years, including one year serving as President.

“Ever since I was little, my favorite place to be has been outside,” wrote Wilkins in her scholarship essay. “I have been fortunate enough to experience the beauty of nature all over the United States… I realized that we have our little paradise, right here in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.”

Wilkins described visits to the forest with her family and the impact these trips had on her growing up. “The peaks and valleys reminded me of the highs and lows we experience in life… No matter how down we feel there is always a way up, you just have to climb to reach it.”

Wilkins will attend Lewis–Clark State College and wants to pursue a degree in English Secondary Education.

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Memorial Scholarship was established in 2018 to honor Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests employees who left us too soon. Funds for the scholarship are raised during an annual employee auction, where Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests employees donate a variety of items and gift baskets for colleagues to bid on. Last year, Forest Service employees personally donated over $2,000 for the 2019 scholarships. This was matched dollar–for–dollar by the TLC Foundation, which honors the memory of Tammy Clark, a Forest Service employee and Orofino resident who passed away in 2017 following her battle with cancer.

These funds allowed the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Employee Association to award four $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors from local schools. The scholarship review panel considered academic achievement, community involvement, and relationship with the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests as part of their selection criteria.

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Employee Association and all employees congratulate McKenzie, Jarret, Kaitlyn, and Kati for receiving the 2019 Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Memorial Scholarships, and thank all applicants for their outstanding essays.

Congratulations to everyone in our local Class of 2019–may you have many successes in your future!



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Photo Caption:

Jarret Nuxoll receives a Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Memorial Scholarship certificate from Forest Tribal Liaison Christine Bradbury at the Clearwater Valley High School senior awards ceremony on May 15, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo by Jennifer Becar.