Four students named Philip J. Otis Fellows

Bates College students Megan Gadsby of St. Michaels, Md.; Elizabeth Kreischer of Arlington Mass.; John Minor of Wilmington, N.C.; and Christopher Westcott of Princeton, N.J., have been named 2001 Phillip J. Otis Fellows and will each receive a $5,000 grant for research and travel to promote greater understanding of environmental issues and the connection between the environment and spirituality.The Otis Fellowships provide major funding for students with exceptional independent projects dealing with the relationship of humanity to the natural world. The projects may range from an examination of environmental policy issues to an exploration of the spiritual significance of the environment in world cultures. Otis Fellowships are funded by an endowment established by the Wurtele and Otis families, in memory of Philip J. Otis ’95, a park ranger who died while still a student, attempting to rescue a hiker on Mount Rainier.

Gadsby, a sophomore, will study of the culture and agricultural traditions of organic farming in Ireland. She will combine work on several Irish farms with reading and reflection on the culture’s poetry and literature.
Visiting the sites of spectacular recent forest fires in New Mexico, Idaho and Montana, Kreischer, a sophomore, will study the cultural history and the ethical issues of forest fires. The exploration of the issue will result in a photographic documentary.

Minor, a junior, will extend his off-campus study semester in Mongolia by examining land–use changes among nomadic and settled people. He will examine specifically the impact of various government–sponsored developments on traditional culture.

Westcott, a sophomore, working in part with Peter Rogers, instructor in environmental studies at Bates College, will examine the ethical dimensions of wildlife conservation in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and the impact of both international and domestic societies on shaping conservation policy within South Africa.

Established in 1996 by Margaret V.B. and C. Angus Wurtele, the Philip J. Otis Endowment commemorates their son, Philip, a member of the Bates class of 1995. A park ranger, Otis, died attempting to rescue an injured climber on Mount Rainier in August 1995. Otis was deeply concerned about nurturing a sense of responsibility for the natural environment, and the endowment sponsors opportunities for study, exploration and reflection by students, faculty and other members of the Bates community. The endowment also supports an annual lectureship on environmental issues and the spiritual and moral dimensions of ecology.

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