Linfield College junior David Kellner-Rode has been awarded one of 80 Udall Foundation scholarships in the U.S.The scholarship is given to those who demonstrate a commitment to careers focused on promoting environmental sustainability.
Kellner-Rode’s initiation into political activism had its roots in the Alaskan landscape. “From my house in Wasilla I can see mountain peak after mountain peak,” he said. “Alaska’s vast expanses of wilderness areas and state and national parks are where I have reflected on my purpose on this planet, and found what I stand for as a human being.”
At Linfield College in Oregon Kellner-Rode is majoring in environmental studies and has served as president of Greenfield, Linfield’s student environmental organization. He is a member of the president’s advisory committee on sustainability, co-created the college sustainability fund, helped start a student-managed campus garden, lobbied for environmental issues, and helped organize a conference designed to give students the skills and tools necessary to ensure a sustainable future.
His lifestyle reflects his beliefs. He supports local farmers by spending a day each week working on a nearby family farm — milking goats, cleaning a chicken coop and harvesting vegetables in exchange for eggs, chickens and produce.
Kellner-Rode also parked his car for a bike and co-created the Linfield Bike Co-op, an alternative transportation project that provides free bike repairs and loans bikes free of charge to students.
“I realized how pressing our environmental problems are,” Kellner-Rode said, “especially climate change. We as a species seem to be rushing towards our carrying capacity on Planet Earth. If our species persists on this unsustainable path, I am afraid it will lead to widespread suffering as resources —like water — become increasingly scarce. We need to make an adjustment now to avoid a drastic adjustment later, and to make sure future generations have the same opportunities for happiness and prosperity that we have enjoyed.
“Sometimes it can be easy to lose hope when all you hear about is how large our environmental problems are,” Keller-Rode said. “My experiences have made me truly optimistic about our chances for a sustainable future.”
Kellner-Rode’s eventual career goal is to help develop effective environmental policy with a nonprofit organization.
The Udall Foundation seeks to increase awareness and stewardship of the nation’s natural resources, and to assist Native American and Alaska Natives with health care and public policy issues. The scholarship honors Representative Morris Udall and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, who dominated environmental reform for three decades.