UM Students Named Wyss Conservation Scholars

February 16, 2017

MISSOULA – Three University of Montana students have been named 2017-18 Wyss Scholars for Conservation in the American West.

Jess Eller graduated from the University of Alaska Southeast and joined UM’s Environmental Studies master’s program in fall 2016, where she quickly emerged as a leader among her peers by assuming an editorial board role with the student literary magazine Camas. Eller aims to work in policy, advocacy and outreach for environmental nonprofits in the West, and she uses dispute resolution skills, including collaboration, in her work.

Heidi Schatz received her teaching credentials from Augsburg College in Minnesota and moved to Missoula to find work and education in the conservation movement. She established a volunteer station leader position with Defenders of Wildlife and battled invasive species with the Missoula County Weed District, involving youth in weed control and identification. She was selected as a youth crew leader for her leadership potential. In fall 2016, she joined the Environmental Studies master’s program and currently is working on a geographic information systems certificate. Schatz wants to work for an organization, like The Nature Conservancy, that has led the way in implementing GIS tools in conservation practice.

Lindsay Wancour graduated from Michigan State University and followed a friend’s suggestion to move to Missoula to work with the Montana Conservation Corps as a team leader. She flourished in the training program, which sparked her interest in graduate school, and she began taking classes in environmental studies before she was admitted in fall 2016. Wancour sees youth involvement as an important element in building a stronger conservation movement. She aspires to work with a wildland restoration nonprofit or youth conservation program, as she is committed to halting degradation and restoring lands throughout the West.

The Wyss Scholars Program provides financial support to UM master’s students who are committed to careers in Western land conservation through a federal or state land management agency or at a nonprofit in the region.

The program is funded by the Wyss Foundation, a private charitable foundation that, since its establishment in 1998, has supported locally led efforts to conserve public lands in the American West and across the country. The foundation’s philanthropy has helped conserve and restore public lands from the Crown of the Continent in Montana and the Hoback Basin in Wyoming to the coastline of California and the rivers of Maine.

For more information on the Wyss Scholars Program, visit, call Julie Tompkins, UM Environmental Studies Program administrative assistant, at 406-243-6284 or email

Contact: Julie Tompkins, administrative assistant, UM Environmental Studies Program, 406-243-6284,