Sanctuary Forest awards 6 with scholarships

Elle Pumpkin
Elle Pumpkin
Raylani Reis
Raylani Reis

Sanctuary Forest recently announced the winners of its scholarship program, according to a news release.

Six outstanding North Coast high school seniors will each receive a $1,000 scholarship in recognition of their demonstrated commitment to environmental protection: Emily Symonds, Mendocino High School; Raylani Reis, Academy of the Redwoods; Ellie Pumpkin, Academy of the Redwoods; Maya Zambas, Arcata High School; River Taylor, Fortuna High School; and Bailey Fales, Eureka High School.

Sanctuary Forest scholarships are funded by friends of Sanctuary Forest and by the Dimmick Family, Humboldt Redwood Company, the Maria and Robert Kelly Stewardship and by local businesses including Thrifty Supply, Redway Liquor andDeli, the Hemp Connection, Coffee Break, Douglas Ingold Attorney at Law and Matarozzi Builders.

The recipient of the Rondal Snodgrass Scholarship — which recognizes Sanctuary Forest’s founder and first executive director — is Raylani Reis. She will be attending Cornell University in the fall and plans to major in environmental engineering and minor in plant science. While attending college, she plans to study abroad, seek internship, and participate in research with a focus of conservation, sustainability and native plant restoration. Both during and after college, her dream is to join Engineers Without Borders in order to gain experience in the engineering field and help disadvantaged communities “by providing them with affordable sustainable infrastructure that maintains their cultural lifestyle,” according to the release. She says that although it is easy to become discouraged, her “experiences in environmental work and love for my natural home have led to my motivation and inspiration to tackle the world’s most pressing issues.”

The Dimmick Family Scholarship — funded for 22 years by the Dimmicks, local producers of timber for four generations — honors the compatible goals of sustainable forestry and environmental protection. This year’s recipient is Ellie Pumpkin, and she will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall, to major in environmental science with emphasis in sustainability and natural resources. She has “always possessed a devotion to nature and a drive to protect it,” but at this stage in her life she is ready to act. She plans to travel, not only to “make a direct impact on conservation efforts across the globe but also to promote sustainability among different cultures of the world through education and community building.” After earning her degree, she hopes to work for a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to preserving Earth’s ecosystems and the species that thrive within them. “My work to foster peace between humans and nature is my strongest passion and is what I plan to devote the rest of my life accomplishing,” she stated in the release.

The winner of the Sanctuary Forest Business Community Scholarship is Maya Zambas, who will be attending UC Santa Cruz in the fall. After gaining education and experience at UC Santa Cruz and graduate school, she hopes to “take part in field work and research to analyze the effect that environmental degradation takes on marine organisms and ecosystems,” the release stated. With this research she hopes to continue striving to solve these problems through increased environmental regulations and techniques. Her goal is to make a significant difference in the way that our oceans and organisms are being destroyed and “restore its amazing biodiversity to what it once was.”

Humboldt Redwood Company awarded a scholarship to Emily Symonds, who will be attending Barnard College in New York in the fall. Emily is passionate about declining salmon populations, and asserts that this is what pushed her into a nature-filled field of study: “Someone has to speak for the salmon.” She plans to continue her education in environmental science through hands-on experiences, and says, “my passion to preserve nature will carry me on to success, regardless of financial and academic challenges. Whether it be through conducting water pollution studies, seeking out sustainable agriculture, or developing technologies in third world countries, both in college and after, I look to preserve and protect the health of the planet, salmon included.”

The Maria and Robert Kelly Stewardship again joined with Sanctuary Forest to award two scholarships in 2017, the first to River Taylor, who will be attending UC Davis in the fall, majoring in environmental science and management. River is very passionate about water quality, and has worked extensively with the Fortuna Creeks Project to clean up trash, e-waste and other refuse from waterways. He would like to get a job that would allow him to “be on an environmental disaster cleanup or assessment crew…I want to be on the front line of the fight to heal the wounds of the human irresponsibility in nature. I want to be there, ready and willing to tackle an oil spill, but I also want to be able to understand what went wrong, so that better care and practices can be implemented in the future. I also want to make sure that such injustices are well documented, so that companies can’t develop a habit of carelessness toward the environment”.

The second Maria and Robert Kelly Stewardship Scholarship went to Bailey Fales, who will be attending Oregon State University in the fall to pursue a degree in Forestry, Agricultural, or Environmental Sciences. She sees herself working in one of these industries in the future, because “our environment is slowly decreasing, and needs someone to be an advocate.” She is passionate about learning the native Yurok language, and is striving to do her part to carry on that tradition.

Approximately $76,000 has been awarded to Sanctuary Forest Scholarship winners over the past 22 years, according to the release. Many of the recipients went on to work in environmental fields contributing to the vitality of the natural world.

To help support the next generation of environmental leaders,or learn more about any aspect of this program, call Sanctuary Forest at 707-986-1087 ext. 9# or go to