A Way To Receive And Give Back

Tom Poland

Posted 12/20/23

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

A long time ago an ad copywriter turned his pen to eco-journalism and outdoor ethics. (Photo by Tom Poland)

You reach a point in life where you look backwards a lot. I recall my days studying Journalism at the University of Georgia. Turns out I chose the wrong discipline. I should have chosen Editorial but I chose Advertising and Public Relations. I was as green as a yet-to-be-cut Christmas tree. I hadn’t turned that insightful as a teen, but at least I knew Journalism was for me.

I could have ended up as a business writer, perish the thought, or a sports writer, not that bad. I wrote a good many ads and press releases early on but the stories I wrote about nature pleased me most. What if I could have studied Journalism with an eye on writing about the outdoors and natural resources? What a head start that would have been. I got lucky when I landed a job as a nature scriptwriter and cinematographer all those years ago. To this day I devote a lot of effort and words to nature.

Another Christmas has come and gone but the getting and the giving doesn’t stop. I’m sure another youngster is out there contemplating a career in natural resources. If you know a young person interested in a natural resources career, encourage them to apply to the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund for a scholarship. The fund has given over $730,000 to South Carolina youth who pursue degrees in the natural resources area. It’s too late for me, but there’s a scholarship for Journalism as well.

The gift of knowledge is a great thing. Students interested in wildlife, fisheries, forestry, biology, zoology, marine science, environmental science, and related fields can apply for scholarships with the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund Inc. The Fund partners with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and helps make scholarships available from the Harry Hampton Fund Scholarship, the Thomas Webster Hardwick Scholarship, the David M. Cline Scholarship, and the Wallace F. Pate Scholarship. (See eligibility criteria in detail at the HHWF’s website.)

Back to my career as a writer in the realm of nature and wildlife. If I were starting out today, the James O. Thomason scholarship would interest me. Its $2,000 given annually, for up to four consecutive years, can help a student further their education in print or photo journalism, advertising, public relations, or mass communications. Instead of a dull office, a scholarship recipient could photograph a pelican rookery or film nesting sea turtles, photograph bald eagles, or write natural history features about red cockaded woodpeckers and other species. The great outdoors, they’ll discover, makes for an interesting office.

Working with the natural world has its rewards. As an ad writer I won Gold Addys and Best of Shows but an award I received many years ago means more to me. I wrote about the need to be better stewards of the great outdoors. You could say I was selling the need to practice responsible outdoor behavior.

Do you know a college-bound young person with a love for the outdoors? It’s no secret the cost of higher education keeps increasing. If they’re about to head to college tell them about the Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund scholarship program. Applications are online. The 2024-2025 applications postmark deadline is January 31, 2024.

Tell them to complete the application completely well before the deadline. A career in the great outdoors is a great way to give back to the environment, to others, and yourself. You could say everyday is Christmas when you do good things for the environment, the place we call home.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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