Catherine Goggins of Newport News, Va., a junior majoring in agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and University Honors student, has received a 2014 Udall Scholarship from the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. 

She is one of 50 students selected from 489 applicants representing 228 colleges and universities, and the only one from Virginia, to receive a 2014 Udall Scholarship.

The Morris K. Udall and Steward L. Udall Foundation, established in 1992 to honor Arizona Congressman Morris King Udall’s 30-year legacy of public service, was created to provide federally funded scholarships for college students pursuing careers related to the environment, as well as to Native American students pursuing tribal policy or health care careers.

Goggins was recognized in the category of “students who have demonstrated commitment to careers related to the environment including policy, engineering, science, education, urban planning and renewal, business, health, justice, economics, and other related fields.”

A Pamplin Scholar, Goggins was appointed an undergraduate student representative on the Energy and Sustainability Committee and was the Student Government Association Representative of the Year for 2012-13 as the Environmental Coalition’s representative. Through the Environmental Coalition, Goggins has committed to making a difference on campus through various projects, including connecting students to the local farmers’ market and creating sustainable energy savings in buildings on campus.

Through Goggins’ minor in civic agriculture and food systems, which requires students in a capstone course to formalize a partnership with a community based organization or sustainable farm with the goal of implementing a community-based project, Goggins teamed up with the Alderson Hospitality House, which provides meals and lodging to families and friends of women who are incarcerated in the federal women’s prison in Alderson, W.Va. Goggins worked with the organization to establish a community garden.

“One afternoon, while seeding spinach for the community garden with a woman on temporary release from Alderson Federal Prison, she reflected on her upcoming freedom,” Goggins said. “Before incarceration, her only hobby was getting high. Now, she told me, she looked forward to gardening as a pastime and way to grow food once back at home.”

Through support from the minor and Pamplin Scholars program, Goggins says she plans to return to work in the community garden again this summer. “It was such a joy to see the community come together in creating and tending to the garden last summer and I look forward to continuing to grow with them!”

“Catherine has an innate curiosity to learn and actively engage with the many dimensions revolving around complex environmental issues facing sustainable agriculture and how they relate to policy, economics, health, and food security,” said Susan Clark, associate professor of horticulture and director of the civic agriculture and food systems minor. “It is a privilege teaching students like Catherine who are destined to make a difference.”

“Catherine is extraordinarily involved in environmental causes and groups. She displays a genuine desire to help the disadvantaged while sustaining the environment,” said George Norton, professor of agriculture and applied economics. “Last summer, she participated in a conservation agriculture program in Ecuador, working with a small group of students who interviewed farmers in a poor rural area. The hours were long, conditions were rustic, and students were in close quarters for six weeks. At the end of the program, another student said to me that Catherine was the most caring and selfless person she had ever met. It is students like Catherine who are so considerate of others that make such experiences enjoyable for everyone. She is an activist with a personality that draws others to her cause.”

As a career goal, Goggins hopes to improve prison conditions through therapeutic stewardship and job training programs, particularly through the Washington State-based Sustainability in Prisons Project. The project aims to bring science and nature into prisons, building partnerships among scientists, inmates, prison staff, students, and community partners.

“Their programs have been very successful in engaging people who are incarcerated with nature: growing food, composting, and even rearing endangered frogs and prairie grasses,” Goggins said. “I would love to work with them as they exemplify the unique roles we all have to play as environmental stewards.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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