ENVS Departmental Awards

Every spring the faculty in the Environmental Studies Department gets together to consider students for departmental awards. It is one of the most enjoyable parts of our job. It is a time we can celebrate the outstanding scholarship and service they engage in every day. Below are this year's award recipients, with prior award winners listed at the bottom. We offer a well-deserved congratulations to this year's winners and also a deep thank-you. It has been an honor to work alongside you and support your growth as scholars, as community members, and as future leaders in environmental problem-solving. We so look forward to what you all will do next. 

2024 Award Recipients

Portrait of Amaya Coblentz standing outdoors with blurry trees in the background

Outstanding Graduating Senior

Amaya (she/her) is graduating with an emphasis in Geographic Information Science and minors in Geography and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies. During her time at WWU, she has worked as a tour guide and competed as a member of the WWU Women’s Rugby Club Team. In the College of the Environment, she has worked as a Lab Assistant for GIS and is currently writing an Honors capstone project titled Landscapes of Change: Acequias, Community Resilience, and State Power in Northern New Mexico (her home state). After graduation, she is looking forward to starting the Master of Environmental Studies program at WWU in the fall and continuing to explore GIS, water politics, and the American West.

Amaya Coblentz
B.A., Environmental Studies-GIS Emphasis
Casey Price smiles for a portrait wearing a ball cap with trees and shrubs in the background.

Outstanding Graduating Senior

Casey graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies and an emphasis in Geographic Information Systems. He also has minors in Geography, Climate Change, and the GIS Certificate. As a student at Western Washington University, Casey was involved in numerous projects, teams, and events. Notably, he served as the GIS Developer for the Sehome Hill Arboretum Sound Mapping Project, administrator of the WWU Critical Cartography Collective, and member of the Mapping Accessibility Project. He also served as GIS Lab Assistant. Casey is most interested in leveraging the unique powers of cartography to help communities navigate through the complex challenges of environmental stewardship and the impacts of climate change. After completing his courses, Casey began a new role as a Project Associate Data & GIS Analyst for BERK Consulting in Seattle.

Casey Price
B.A., Environmental Studies-GIS Emphasis
Kenna Kuhn smiles from the bow of a boat, with water and pink and blue sky behind.

Outstanding Environmental Studies M.A. Graduate Student

Kenna graduated in 2024 with a Master’s thesis focused on GIS and regional biophysical climate resilience. During her time as a graduate student, Kenna served on the Graduate Program Committee, maintained two regional fellowships, and supported the undergraduate Physical Geography, Climate Change, and GIS courses. Outside her academic pursuits, Kenna served on the board of a local non-profit to expand outdoor recreation opportunities for women, instructed at two yoga studios, and maintained a graphic design and non-profit consultation company supporting clients like the Community Boating Center. While achieving summa cum laude at WWU, Kenna sharpened her technical writing, GIS, and cartography skills and climate change adaptation acumen. Kenna is eager to bring her skills and zeal into the next stage of her career in environmental work.

Kenna Sarae Kuhn
M.A., Environmental Studies
Evan poses for a photo standing partially behind a shrub with more shrubs in the background.

Outstanding Departmental Applications Award

Evan Peone spent their senior year braiding together their cultural knowledge with their academic knowledge through their senior project. Evan belongs to the Spokane and Colville tribes of the plateaus of Eastern Washington. She has been working studiously working on a traditional Plateau-style beaded map of Washington state. Through their experience, she has been working closely with Dr. Kristen French, a faculty advisor for NASU and a close friend. They met weekly throughout the past two years beading together and sharing cultural knowledge about what it means to be Indigenous. This project not only gave Evan the chance to practice their Indigenous culture, but to work on what it means to decolonize. She has done extensive research and reading into decolonial and anti-colonial theoretical frameworks that built the foundation of their project, with a special emphasis on Decolonization is Not a Metaphor by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. She was often found beading in class participating in an act of colonial resistance through their beadwork.

Evan Peone
Environmental Studies-Geography Emphasis
Marko Foster stands at the edge of a body of water with choppy waters and clouds in the background.

Outstanding Departmental Research Award

Marko Foster graduated in December 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies – Geography Emphasis, along with a GIS Minor and Certificate. During his time at the College of the Environment, Marko learned the importance of integrating natural sciences with humanities to effect positive change on the environment and humanity.

Marko began his GIS studies in his junior year, quickly developing a passion for the field. After completing numerous environmental research projects and dedicating extensive hours in the GIS lab, he cultivated a deep appreciation for GIS.

As a member of the Honors College, Marko was required to complete a senior project, providing him with an opportunity to use GIS as a tool for environmental research. With support from his advisor, Dr. Aquila Flower, Marko completed a GIS-based project in a national park in his home country of North Macedonia during the summer and fall of 2023.

GIS has played a pivotal role in Marko’s academic journey, and he will continue to use it as a tool to benefit the environment and communities.

Marko Foster
B.A., Environmental Studies-Geography Emphasis
Hank Belanger poses for a photo wearing a blue Western sweatshirt

Outstanding Departmental Community Service Award

Hank Belanger is graduating with a BA in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Policy, Politics, and Governance, and a minor in GIS. While at Western, Hank interned in the Methow Valley through the Climate Leadership Certificate and engaged in projects ranging from environmental justice data collection across the Salish Sea to outlining a text-alert food recovery system. After graduating, he is excited to pursue an environmental career and spend time with his family.

Henry "Hank" Belanger
B.A., Environmental Studies, Policy, Politics & Governance emphasis
Ainsley stands on a boat with a camera and icy looking water and mountains in the background.

National Council for Geographic Education Award

I am so honored and excited to use the experiences and knowledge that I have gained from my education at the College of the Environment to explore the ways people and place are connected. I want to use geographic information systems to explore environmental injustices that are negatively impacting communities around the world. Currently, I am working to become an educator that can combine these ideas and teach others to connect with their own sense of place.

Ainsley Shearer
Environmental Studies-GIS Emphasis
Ariela sits on a bench, smiling, with water and boats in the background.

Department Community Builders Award

Ariela Ikezawa is graduating cum laude from Western Washington University this spring with a degree in Elementary Education (Woodring College of Education), Environmental Studies (College of the Environment), and a minor in Museum Studies (College of Fine and Performing Arts). She is the recipient of a summer 2023 NASA grant to study science education in STEM museum settings. Her research findings were selected for presentation at a nationwide conference of the National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA) in Denver, Colorado, in the spring of 2024.

In addition to her outstanding academic career, Ariela has been committed to creating inclusive and engaging educational experiences for others. Recognized for her role in creating programs and lessons at both the SPARK museum and the Western Gallery’s Arbitrary Borders exhibition, Ariela set a standard for fostering engagement and interest in many subjects. This fall Ariela will begin her career as an elementary school teacher in the Bellevue School District. As she transitions from student to educator, her legacy at WWU will continue to set a worthy example to the next generation of aspiring educators.

Ariela Ikezawa
B.A.E., Environmental Studies Elementary Education
Olivia Berner poses for a portrait standing next to a tree

Environmental Studies Department Social & Environmental Justice Award

Olivia Berner is graduating in 2024 with a BA in Environmental Studies with an Environmental Justice and Community Resilience emphasis and a minor in Psychology. While working and interning at the Fair Housing Center of Washington (beginning in 2022), she contributed to research that would inform the FHCW Disability Rights Conference, grant applications, and the organization’s collective understanding of housing insecurity. Exposure to applications of justice regarding housing discrimination motivated her to focus on community engagement and well-being in other projects, one standout being the co-organization (alongside Juno Bonnell-Jones, Jessica Darlington, Red Grojean, and Mason Pappas, supervised by Dr. Kate Darby) of a “Food Sovereignty Student Teach-In” during Winter 2024 with Guest Speaker Gabby Larsen. This event was an open dialogue about food insecurity at WWU, providing attendees with information on immediate resources and more widespread programs. She is excited to carry these experiences and understanding into whatever the future brings! 

Olivia Berner
B.A., Environmental Studies, Environmental Justice & Community Resilience Emphasis

Patrick Monahan Award

The Patrick L. Monahan Scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students with geography-related majors who show strong potential for contributions and leadership in the field of geography. Academic achievement and need are also important considerations. Full-time undergraduates as well as community college students transferring to the College of the Environment as geography-related majors are eligible.

Department geography-related degrees include Geography, BA; Environmental Studies -- Geography emphasis, BA; Environmental Studies – Geographic Information Science Emphasis, BA; Geography – Elementary, BAE; and Geography/Social Studies, BA.

2024 Recipients of the Monahan award are:

  • Nina Bracht-Bedell
  • Soren Cooley
  • Harriet "Harry" Grantz
  • Ryan Mueller
  • August Kaster
  • Ashley Sherman
  • Jackson Fox
  • David Remer
  • Emma Kroll


2023 Award Recipients

A portrait of a student with long dark hair wearing a knit shawl in front of a sea green background

Outstanding Graduating Senior

Clary (she/her) is graduating with a degree emphasis in Environmental Education and Eco-Social Justice, having achieved a 4.0 GPA. In her time at the College of the Environment, Clary served on the college’s Diversity and Community Affairs committee and led the organization of a Gear Lending Library project to increase access to field-based programs for CENV students. She spent her final quarter at Western in the Environmental Education Spring Block program, working to facilitate land-based learning for Indigenous youth. After graduation, Clary is looking forward to returning home to Northern California, where she will continue to work with young people in outdoor experiential settings. She plans to pursue a Master’s of Education degree in the near future.

Clary Greacen de la Montagne
Education and Eco-Social Justice Emphasis, BA
A student wearing gloves standing in a forest holding a mass of soil and plants with both hands

Outstanding Community Service Award

Brynn Vogel is graduating with a BA in environmental education and eco-social justice. During their time at Western they served as an intern for the College of the Environment Strategic Visioning Committee and participated in the Spring Block environmental education cohort. They are excited to pursue a career in environmental and outdoor education and see the world after graduating!

Brynn Vogel
Education and Eco-Social Justice Emphasis, BA
A student in a grey tshirt with a bison and the seal of Wyoming on it stands in front of tall dark plants

National Council for Geographic Education Award

Kiernan Park-Egan is majoring in Environmental Studies with a Geographic Information Science Emphasis. He enjoys his spare time making maps for various U.S. Elections. He has been accepted into a master's program at Northwest Missouri State University, where he will be perusing a Master's in Geographic Information Science.

Kiernan Park-Egan
Geographic Information Science Emphasis BA, Geography Minor
two photos combined, split diagonally, in the top left a student in a puffy blue jacket and sunglasses on the side of a mountain, on the bottom right a student in a large navy knit sweater leaning on the rail of a boat in calm seas..

Community Builders Award

Anna came to Western not knowing what they were going to do in school and so leaned into communities on campus to figure it out. As they worked on their Environmental Education degree, they started running a chapter of a nonprofit that focused on connecting women and non-binary folks with shared outdoor interests. They have helped organize community events like clothing swaps and outdoor adventures that range from trail runs to speaker series learning about avalanche safety. They have worked in the outdoor ed field through the Environmental Education Spring Block program, and returned to the program as a TA to help other educators come into a space of communal learning and supporting reparations in the environmental education field. After graduating they are hoping to leave the tools and structure to help others maintain the communities they were dedicated to.

Zoe Harper is graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies with and emphasis in Environmental Education and Ecosocial Justice. They transferred to Western specifically for this program, and it's safe to say it has changed their whole life. Through their studies they helped to design and sustain a field school in cooperation with both the Lummi and W̱SÁNEĆ nations in and around the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands. In the second year of this field school, Zoe, and their good friend Anna Friedrich, came back as TA's to help a new cohort of students in finding their passions in this work. Zoe is leaving Western inspired by their now vibrant connection to Place, where they had come into this program most excited by environmental education, they're leaving with an emboldened passion for Ecosocial Justice.

Anna Friederich, Zoe Harper
Environmental Education Spring Block
A black poster with gold text and designs for an Intersectional Ecofeminism event, centering a globe above open hands, with modern tarot-like motifs around the edge.

Social & Environmental Justice Award

A group of students helped bring and host two visitors (one in winter, two in spring) to help the Department, College and Campus learn about Intersectional Environmentalism and what it could mean here. Winter events included a large class talk and reception afterward; a Black History Month Luncheon talk in the MCC; and small group discussions all with Jarre Hamilton. Spring events for Jarre and IE Exec. Dir. Diandra Marizet were closely tied to Earth Week, and included several class visits; small affinity group meetings; a big evening event with two music acts; a dinner and a panel discussion on Intersectional Ecofeminism; a Community Resilience Workshop; and an appearance at the Outback Unplugged support event.

To help make these happen team member Angela Romeo provided a campus tour and was worked with the Disability Outreach Center to connect and find other interested folx. Abby Louise Bounty stepped up to provide an opening act for the dinner; Maiyu Nanouk Jones spoke as a panel member; and Natalie Harris and Erica Richardson did the lioness’s share of coordinating with Earth Week plans and dealing with many aspects of the Ecofeminism panel and Outback events. Joined by others playing smaller roles such as accompanying the guests around campus or for meals, and meeting many different needs, the team ensured a pleasant visit and a successful intro to IE.

Angela Romeo, Natalie Harris, Abby Louis LaBounty, Maiyuraq (Lauryn) Nanouk Jones, Erica Richardson
Intersectional Environmentalist Events
A student in a dark beanie, rain jacket, and gloves standing at the top of a mossy overlook of some thin evergreens and an overcast ocean

Outstanding Departmental Applications Award

Tegan Keyes spent her senior year interning with LEAD, WWU’s ecological restoration program. She assisted in designing and implementing a native ecosystem restoration project on a degraded site on WWU’s campus, using the Miyawaki Method afforestation technique. The project culminated in a large-scale work party on Earth Day, 2023, where over 200 community volunteers planted 1000 seedlings that will grow into a dense, diverse, mini-forest.

Tegan Keyes
Environmental Studies BA, Salish Sea & Honors Interdisciplinary Studies Minors
A student in a long sleeve shirt with sunglasses on their head standing in front of a mountain

Outstanding Departmental Research Award

Olivia Hobson graduated in December 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Journalism and the GIS Certificate. During her time at Western, she spent countless hours in newsrooms on and off campus finding stories in her community that explained, uncovered or celebrated the connections between the human and the non-human, the spatial and the temporal, and the climate challenges with the climate solutions here in the Pacific Northwest. Olivia started taking GIS classes her junior year at Western and knew the program would provide her with an exciting new set of skills to broaden the ways she could tell stories. Using spatial data and visualizations to explain or enhance the climate trends, problems and solutions she writes about has been a fun new challenge and opens up a new way of thinking about how stories can be told and how they can be shared with the communities they're about. Olivia hopes to use GIS in her future work to emphasize environmental justice, sustainable development and community resilience in the face of climate change.

Olivia Hobson
Environmental Journalism BA, GIS Certificate
A student in a green puffy jacket and tan beanie sitting at a picnic table at a campsite

Outstanding MA Graduate Student

In her short time at Western, Ava has made impressive contributions to the Bellingham-area community, Western Washington University, the College of the Environment, and the ENVS MA program. She has successfully authored or co-authored four grant proposals. One of those grants was a SEJF grant to install a mini-forest on the WWU campus using the Miyawaki Method, including a WWU/community Earth Day community event where volunteers planted nearly a thousand plants on degraded property co-owned by WWU and the City of Bellingham. Ava brought together five community organizations and hundreds of volunteers for the project. She has also been one of the graduate student co-directors of the LEAD program and was instrumental in bringing it back after the pandemic. In addition to facilitating the standard LEAD work parties, Ava used the mini-forest project and funding as an integrating context to re-engage students and community members in the LEAD program. Her thesis, “Adoption of Agroforestry Practices in Northwest Washington State: An Ex-ante Case-Study,” represents one of the first examples of using stated choice, an econometric experimental design method, to explore landowner adoption of agroforestry practices. While achieving a 4.0 GPA at Western, Ava has focused on developing her ability to evaluate and scope future natural climate solutions relevant to the PNW, including agroforestry, reforestation, and regenerative agriculture projects.

Ava Stone
Environmental Studies MA
Two photos combined, one of a student in a small boat at sunset, another giving a thumbs up from a viewpoint overlooking a glacial valley

Patrick Monahan Award

The Patrick L. Monahan Scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students with geography-related majors who show strong potential for contributions and leadership in the field of geography. Academic achievement and need are also important considerations. Full-time undergraduates as well as community college students transferring to the College of the Environment as geography-related majors are eligible.

Department geography-related degrees include:

  • Geography
  • Environmental Studies -- Geography emphasis, BA
  • Environmental Studies – Geographic Information Science Emphasis, BA
  • Geography – Elementary, BAE
  • Geography/Social Studies, BA
Gordon Brunson, Harriett Grantz, Marko Foster (not pictured)