Environmental Studies Spotlight: Madison Whitney

Photo Credit: Madison Whitney, third-year Environmental Studies student
March 10, 2021

Madison Whitney, third-year Environmental Studies student, is a finalist for the 2021 Truman Scholarship. The Truman is a highly competitive award for students who show exceptional leadership, academic achievement, and commitment to public service. Whitney is one of only three students from Nebraska, and one of 193 students nationwide, to be selected as a finalist.

The Truman Scholarship supports students who are dedicated to community involvement and show true potential to be leaders of the public, something that Whitney is passionate about. “The idea that each person can make a difference by helping their community is really powerful,” Whitney said. “A career in public service ensures that I can have a positive influence on both my community and the natural areas that I love.”

Whitney wasted no time getting involved in environmental sustainability at UNL. As a freshman, she represented student organization SustainUNL at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby regional conference in South Dakota. “At the time, I was a bit discouraged about both UNL and Nebraska’s lack of action on environmental issues. The weekend I spent at the conference helped me find a community of young environmental activists in Sustain and realize that making environmental change in Nebraska was possible. I came back from the conference with a new perspective of UNL and started to find students and professors who were genuinely committed to making our university more sustainable,” Whitney said.

Even when it isn’t a clean or easy process, Whitney remains a strong advocate for environmental justice and climate action. “I don’t know if climate change can be solved in my lifetime, but I do know that we can uplift communities that are facing the consequences and take action to protect the environment from further damage,” Whitney said. Throughout her time at UNL, she has been awarded the Gilman Scholarship, inducted into the Honors Society of Agriculture, selected to the UNL Mortar Board, and recognized on the Dean’s List for both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. She has already proven to be a dedicated and inspiring changemaker, and she’s just getting started.

Truman finalists will interview with a regional review panel through April 5th, and the scholarship winners are expected to be announced in mid-April.