The Morris K. Udall Scholarship is a very prestigious national awards competition. Its purpose is to recognize and encourage future leaders in environmental activism, research and policy, who have demonstrated commitment to preserving and sustaining our natural resources. The scholarship also recognizes Native Americans who are interested in tribal policy and health care. About 75 scholarships are awarded each year; virtually every candidate will be in the top ten percent of their class, have demonstrated significant interest in environmental or tribal policy, and have engaged in environmentally related activities and/or research. Therefore, an effective letter of recommendation must go far beyond the standard, boilerplate letter to a graduate or professional school admissions committee.
The selection committee will look for evidence of academic excellence, intellectual independence, and sincere motivation to pursue a career in environmental or tribal policy in the application, and your letter should emphasize the ways in which the candidate displays such qualities. Successful candidates will be those who "walk the talk" and can demonstrate ongoing pursuit of their stated ideals and goals both in the classroom and in their activities on- and off- campus. You may find it helpful to sit down with the candidate and discuss his or her academic work, extracurricular activities, and future education and career goals. Applicants should also provide you with drafts-as they revise-of their applications.
Here are a few samples: