Scholarships awarded at University of Montevallo’s Outdoor Scholars Banquet

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – The University of Montevallo awarded scholarships aimed at helping students involved with the President’s Outdoor Scholars Program during a banquet held at American Village on Thursday, Aug. 17.

The event, attended by more than 300 people, was held in recognition of the University of Montevallo’s President’s Outdoor Scholars Program and awarded five total scholarships to students. This included a $1,500 scholarship presented by Jackie Bushman and Buckmasters, which has served as a corporate sponsor for the program since its first year.

Unlike some other programs, the Outdoor Scholars Program seeks to provide scholarships for non-traditional students, in addition to first-generation college students, that may not meet traditional requirements seen by most scholarship offerings. It is intended for those who display a true and honest passion for the outdoors.

“The way a student is awarded that scholarship, it’s for an incoming freshman, is that they write an essay every year with their application when they apply for our program,” said William Crawford, director of The President’s Outdoor Scholars Program. “The Buckmaster crew basically just reads over the (submitted) essays and they pick who they feel best represents them and their organization.”

The event also served to recognize the general success and growth that the program has experienced since its inception eight years ago in August, 2015. In the beginning, the program was made up of just four students but now that number has surpassed 100.

“This is our biggest year, as far as the number of students in our program that we’ve had,” Crawford said. “We’re at 110 students and there are 20 different states represented in our program.”

The University of Montevallo’s President’s Outdoor Scholars Program began through the efforts of Dr. John Stewart, president of the University of Montevallo, who sought to found a program that concurrently appealed to a new base of students and serviced a void that other universities were neglecting.

“We were asking ourselves what could we be doing for students in Alabama and around the country that higher education wasn’t necessarily doing and (what we could do) especially to bring more young men to campus,” Stewart said. “We have lady outdoor scholars who are wonderful, but we were thinking of programs we could do to bring more young men to campus. I got (to) thinking, ‘What do young men in our state like to do?’ And that is to hunt and fish.”

For Stewart, the program was not only just a way to reach out to new students and make the University of Montevallo more welcoming, it was an endeavor that held a personal significance as well.

“I missed hunting and fishing when I went away to college,” Stewart said. “So, William Crawford, our director, and I had several talks about it and we decided that we’d give it a try. Now there are 110 students from all over the United States, (including) California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland and, of course, Alabama. We’re very proud of the program and it just brought a different kind of student. They love to hunt and fish and now we’ve had a national championship bass-fishing team three years in a row.”

The program is not merely just an excuse for those involved to take fishing trips, it is a focused educational program that utilizes the student’s enjoyment of nature to explore the values and work related to the practices of conservation. It seeks to provide the students an active work ethic and the knowledge that is necessary on how to best enjoy and teach about the benefits of the land, its resources, and the wildlife that calls those areas home.

It also seeks to give insight on future employment opportunities within industries and fields involving the outdoors, game management and conservation.

Those interested can discover more about the University of Montevallo’s President’s Outdoor Scholars Program at