Stephanie Mallory is a mom, a hunter and Realtree’s PR Coordinator. She’s here to deliver an insider’s look at the outdoor business and give her opinion on all things outdoors—whether you asked for it or not.
Earn College Scholarships for the Outdoor Activities You Love
If you’ve watched the news lately, you’ve no doubt heard about the skyrocketing price of higher education. In fact, the College Board recently reported that a "moderate" college budget for an in-state public college for the 2011–2012 academic year averaged $21,447. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $42,224. With costs such as these, many graduating seniors feel college is out of reach. Well, don’t give up hope. Did you know you can actually earn college scholarships for your outdoor pursuits?
Each year, thousands of dollars’ worth of college scholarships are given away for outdoor-related sports and activities, such as archery, shooting, bass fishing, conservation and even duck calling. Take the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) for example. The NWTF has given away more than $3 million in scholarships. More than $500,000 in scholarships is available to high school seniors each year. Applicants for the NWTF scholarship must be members of the NWTF and are judged on their scholastic achievements, leadership abilities, community involvement and commitment to conservation and the preservation of the hunting heritage.
Safari Club International also gives away thousands of dollars in scholarships. Each year up to four outstanding freshman students, recommended through Safari Club International Chapters, are awarded scholarships valued at $4,800 and will be distributed at $1,200 per year for four years. Preference is given, but not limited to, applicants seeking a degree in or related to the field of conservation.
Shooting is a popular scholarship focus with the NRA offering a number of scholarship opportunities, including the NRA’s Youth Education Summit & Scholarship Program. Each year, 45 outstanding high school sophomores and juniors from across the U.S. are chosen to travel to the nation’s capital, where they participate in the weeklong educational opportunity. The participants also get to compete for $30,000 in college scholarships.
If you are member of a ROTC or JROTC rifle team, you can apply for a Civilian Marksmanship Scholarship Program award. Recipients must be undergrads or high school seniors who have excellent rifle marksmanship abilities and have maintained exceptional academic and leadership credentials, or are active members of a JROTC, high school, college or ROTC rifle team. Check your state shooting clubs and organizations for additional scholarship opportunities.
A few schools offer archery scholarships, but most are available through archery organizations and clubs. For example, the National Archery Association awards eight $500 scholarships annually in its NAA Foundation College Scholarship program. And, high school seniors who’ve been active members of the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) for a year are eligible to apply for the NFAA Scholarship.
You can even use your duck-calling skills to win scholarship money. During its 36-year history, the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest has awarded more than $60,000 in scholarships to young duck callers attending 32 different colleges and universities in 13 different states.
And, let’s not forget the abundance of bass-fishing scholarships. More than 200 colleges currently have bass fishing clubs and many of those schools offer scholarships. Many state fishing clubs and organizations offer scholarships as well.
For those interested in pursuing a degree in an outdoor communications field, the Outdoor Writers Association of America offers the Bodie McDowell scholarship program to undergraduate and graduate-level college students.
These are a small sampling of the many available outdoors-related scholarships. So, do some research and apply. You’ll be surprised by the amount of free cash that’s available for higher education. Even more surprising is the millions of dollars that go unawarded each year simply due to lack of applicants. You don’t necessarily have to be a brain or elite athlete to win scholarship money. You simply need determination and the ability to follow through with the application process.