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Gloria Barron Wilderness Society Scholarship: How to Apply

The 2019 application cycle is now complete. Thank you to everyone that applied.


The Gloria Barron Wilderness Society Scholarship seeks to encourage individuals who have the potential to make a significant positive difference in wilderness protection in the United States.

The Gloria Barron Wilderness Society Scholarship is available to qualified graduate students. It is created in honor of Gloria Barron, dedicated educator and tireless advocate for wilderness protection, and administered by The Wilderness Society, a leading conservation organization based in Washington, D.C.

The scholarship amount varies from year to year. Historically, awards of $10,000 have been given to graduate students to support their research and preparation of a paper on an aspect of wilderness. We strongly encourage proposals relating to climate change, as well as other topics regarding wilderness conservation.  


Eligibility requirements

Graduate students meeting the eligibility requirements noted below may apply directly to The Wilderness Society. If you are an applicant, please make sure you meet all of the scholarship eligibility requirements and follow the application procedures below.

Applicants for the Gloria Barron Wilderness Society Scholarship must:

  • Be currently enrolled in an accredited graduate institution in North America;
  • Have strong academic qualifications;
  • Have academic and/or career goals focused on making a significant positive difference in the long-term protection of wilderness in the United States. Graduate students in natural resources management, law or policy programs are strongly encouraged to apply.

Application requirements

Students applying for the Gloria Barron Wilderness Society Scholarship must submit all of the following materials in PDF format, in one document if possible for an application to be considered complete:

  • A two-page double-spaced cover letter
    The letter must offer insights into the personal motivations of the applicant as well as how wilderness has influenced your life. If, in the course of this essay, you could give us some understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, this would also be helpful.
  • A 3-5 page double-spaced proposal
    The proposal must include a description of the proposed work and a timeline for completion of a paper within 24 months. The 5-page proposal limit does not include your list of references/citations. See Research Topics for guidelines.
  • A current résumé or curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation
    The letters must describe the applicant's ability to meet the objectives of the scholarship and proposed work. The letters should be included with the rest of the application materials.  
  • Scanned undergraduate and graduate transcripts (official or unofficial)

Research Topics

The research paper should address an aspect of the establishment, protection or management of wilderness. The applicant may choose to discuss a subject relevant to current programs of The Wilderness Society or introduce a new topic. It may apply to a particular landscape or it may address issues broadly. The following themes are provided as examples of appropriate research topics:

  • Restoration of the health and function of wilderness

What is "good" ecological restoration? What is the proper scale and at what point can a system be considered restored?

  • Reserve design in the context of ecosystem management

The role of reserves in the conservation of ecosystem integrity especially in the context of climate change.

  • Management impacts on wildland ecosystems

How do roads affect ecosystem function and what roles should roadless areas play in protecting ecosystem integrity, what are the ecological and social impacts of grazing in wildland ecosystems, and what can be done to protect wildland ecosystems from biological invasion?.

  • Valuing wildlands

How wildland protection contributes to rural economic health and the design of policies and programs to help rural communities leverage the economic value of protecting wildland ecosystems.

  • Connecting people to wildlands

The contributions of wilderness to public health and well-being, particularly for residents of metropolitan areas.

  • Impacts of climate change

What are the terrestrial and aquatic impacts of climate change on wilderness areas and wilderness resources; what is the relationship between wildland fire, carbon emissions/sequestration, and climate change; what are the economic effects of climate change on wildland ecosystem services such as water quality and quantity; and what are the implications of climate change for wilderness management?


Scholarship Timeline

Typically, applications are accepted from late January to mid-April. Our selection committee reviews the applications and narrows the field to the top submissions. Then The Wilderness Society’s Governing Council reviews those applications and a winner is selected about mid-July.


Scholarship Requirements

Scholarship Payments

The total amount of the scholarship, paid in two installments, is $10,000. The first installment paid once the winner is notified in mid-July, and the second is paid the following February.  

The recipient may be liable for income tax on the scholarship. Please consult with your tax advisor on the proper treatment of the award. 

Additional funding may be available to pay travel expenses for the recipient to work with staff members of The Wilderness Society on this project. TWS wishes to encourage the publication of this work in an academic journal or other appropriate medium and has additional funds to help cover expenses of publishing and publicizing the final paper.  

Progress and Final Reports

In order to receive the second payment, the recipient must send a letter in January or early February following the awarding of the scholarship, summarizing the status of his/her project and the expected completion date of their research project. The recipients are required to submit a final paper describing the findings of their research project within 24 months of receiving the award.


How to Apply

Application Deadline: April 19, 2019- NOTE: The 2019 Cycle is now complete, we are no longer accepting applications for this year. Please check back next year.

Click HERE for the application: Gloria Barron Scholarship

Please submit any supporting documents to [email protected] and please reference applicant's name in the subject line. 


For more information, contact:

Barb Young, Program & Operations Specialist

[email protected]

No phone calls please.


The Wilderness Society is an equal opportunity employer and actively works to ensure fair treatment of our employees and constituents across culture, socioeconomic status, race, marital or family situation, gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, physical ability, veteran status or sexual orientation.

As an organization, we aspire to being inclusive in the work that we do and in the kind of organization we are.  Internally, this means working as a team that listens to different points of view, recognizes the contributions of every employee, and empowers each employee to bring their whole selves to work every day.  Externally, this means ensuring that public lands are inclusive and welcoming so that our shared wildlands can help people and nature to thrive.  We are committed to equity throughout our work, which we define as our commitment to realizing the promise of our public lands and ensuring that all can share in their universal benefits.

To learn more about our commitment, please see Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.


Gloria Barron Scholarship winners 1998 to present

2018 Annie Kellner
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) terrestrial ecology within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and beyond

2017 Joan Dudney, University of California, Berkeley
Developing a science-based management plan for white pines in the southern Sierra Nevada

2016 Caitlyn Littlefield, University of Washington
Assessing potential climate refugia in the North Cascades

2015 Matthew Williamson, University of California, Davis
Quantifying the contribution of currently and potentially protected areas to climate adaptation: Centrality in the Northern Rockies

2014 Dominique M. Davíd-Chavez  Colorado State University
Whitebark pine distribution:  adaptation in a changing climate

2013 Adriana Zuniga, University of Arizona
From neighborhoods to wellbeing and conservation: optimizing the usage of natural open spaces through design

2012 Johanna Varner, University of Utah 
Too hot to trot? Connecting urban youth to wilderness areas through a collaborative climate change research initiative 

2012 Sarah Bisbing, Colorado State University
Conserving the Adaptive Potential of Western Forests: Using range-wide patterns of genetic population structure and niche modeling to predict the response of Pinus contorta to climatic change

2012 Jennifer Thornhill, George Mason University
Can New Metrics Help Us Bridge the Gap? A case study in the measurement of scientific literature’s impact on decision making.

2011 Lauren Oakes, Stanford University
Managing Forest Communities in a Changing Climate: Social and Ecological Responses to Yellow-Cedar Decline in Southeast Alaska’s Coastal Rainforests

2010 Rose Graves, University of Vermont
Re-Wilding the Northeast: Strategic Wilderness Reserve Design and Connectivity Conservation in the Northern Appalachian Ecoregion

2009 University of Michigan Jesse Fernandes, Natalie Flynn, Samantha Gibbes, Matt Griffis, Takahiro Isshiki, Sean Killian, Laura Palombi, Nerissa Rujanavech, Sarah Tomsky, and Merry Tondro
Renewable Energy in the California Desert: Mechanisms for Evaluating Solar Development on Public Lands

2008 Travis Belote, Virginia Tech
The Influence of Land Use on Ecosystem Carbon Capture and Biodiversity: The Role of Wilderness Areas in Maintaining Regional Productivity and Species Diversity

2008 Crystal Krause, Northern Arizona University
Conservation Ecology of Endemic Plant Species within the Greater Colorado River Corridor: Potential Climate Change Impacts on Range Shifts

2007 Stacey Schulte, University of Colorado
Environmental Implications of Benefits-based Management of BLM Lands

2005 Peter Morgan, Stanford Law School
Creating Buffers and Connectors for Wilderness Reserves

2004 Pauline Gaden, John Hopkins University
An Initiative to Support the Proposed Expansion of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park by Demonstrating Economic and Ecological Benefits

2003 Zack Holden, University of Idaho
Evaluating the Effects of 25 Years of Wildland Fire Use on Southwestern Ponderosa Pine Forests: Tree Mortality and Stand Structure

2002 Stacy Clark, Oklahoma State University
Restoration and Management Research for Ancient Cross Timbers Forest

2001 Monique Rocca, Duke University
Incorporating Spatial Variability into Fire Restoration Plans: What Kinds of Heterogeneity Matter to Plants

2000 David Lewis, Oregon State University
Land Conservation and Economic Growth in the Northern Forest

1999 Marcus Renner, University of Wisconsin-Madison
A Citizen's guide to Education and Outreach for Community-based Conservation Programs

1998 David Pilliod Introduction of Fish to Wilderness Lakes without Existing Predatory Fish

1998 Christina Cromley
Learning from and Improving Bison Management in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem