Past Scholarship Winners

Maria Grima is the 2019 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship.  Maria is entering the MS program at the SUNY Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.  She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from Stony Brook with a BA in Environmental Studies. She was on the Dean's List and a Presidential Scholar for all four undergraduate years.  Ms. Grima aspires to earn PhD in Marine and Terrestrial Sciences.

Evie Brahmstedt is the 2018 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. She is an Environmental Science & Engineering candidate at Clarkson University with a special interest in freshwater wetlands. As a researcher and teacher, Ms. Brahmstedt is also incorporating communication and creativity into her career to protect ecological resources from human threats while also effectively teaching and communicating science to sustain the systems. She has won awards for her research work, as well as presentation skills.

Johanna Jensen is the 2017 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. As a second year graduate student at Columbia University, and preparing for her PhD in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Ms. Jensen is passionate about conserving the most vulnerable places on the planet. Her childhood time spent in the Adirondacks revealed the beauty, connectedness and fragility of ecosystems. Her research has taken her above the Arctic circle and back, closer to reaching her dream "to protect these places as an ecologist and conservationist so that future generations may love the natural world as I do."

Nick McCloskey is the 2016 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. Mr. McCloskey is a senior environmental science major at Siena College. He is active on campus as the environmental club president, and active off campus, in communities, such as volunteering in Project WAVE to assist the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in assessing water quality in streams. Mr. McCloskey has had a lifelong interest in the environment and plans to pursue research and work that will promote environmental awareness of local water bodies and their interconnection to both the human and fish populations. He is passionate about finding ways to protect aquatic species and improve water quality.

Charles Robinson, Jr. is the 2015 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. Mr. Robinson is pursuing a MS in Conservation Biology at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He demonstrates incredible dedication to our native amphibian species; his fascination of their importance and their vulnerabilities. His graduate research is devoted to better understanding the mysteries of emerging amphibian diseases like Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in the headwaters of the Hudson River. Former supervisors point to Mr. Robinson's relentless pursuit of knowledge in the cutting-edge field of disease ecology and his effectiveness as a problem solver. Upon completing his studies, he intends to follow a career in wetland management in New York, aiding in the mitigation of amphibian diseases and ensuring future generations have the same opportunities to be inspired by amphibians.

Maija Niemisto is the 2014 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship for her exceptional achievements that exemplify the mission of TGF. Ms. Niemisto will be beginning the M.S. program in Marine Sciences at SUNY Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences in the fall. She has dedicated her academic and professional life to knowledge in the environmental and conservation sciences. Those that know her have been witness to her "incredibly strong work ethic and unrivaled positive outlook." Her graduate research using an echosounder in collaboration with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater will directly impact our understanding of the ecosystem dynamics of the historic river. Ms. Niemisto tells us that she has chosen to spend her life learning and teaching about water; "what lives below the surface of it, what threatens it, and how to protect it."

Stefan Karkuff is the 2013 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. Mr. Karkuff will be entering his second year of graduate studies in Environmental Conservation at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. His proposed research project is to assess the impacts of leaf litter on food web interactions in temporary wetlands. Mr. Karkuff aims to better understand natural systems, with the ultimate goal of becoming a career biologist or ecologist with an environmental consulting firm. It is clear that he applies the discipline he knows as an athlete to all that he does. Several people recommended Stefan for the scholarship citing his dependability, hard-work, and intellectual curiosity. Reflecting on the evolution of his own knowledge of biology, he states, "I would certainly hope to apply my knowledge and understanding of natural systems to daily responsibilities, not only for the protection and enhancement of natural environment, but also for public education purposes."

Elizabeth Murphy is the 2012 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship.  Ms. Murphy is a Masters candidate at Bard College in the Climate Science and Policy program.  She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Geology from Vassar College and was one of ten national awardees of the Compton Mentor Fellowship in 2008 which enabled her to further her studies on tidal power in the Northeast.  With a commitment to her home region, the Hudson River Valley, Ms. Murphy's passion and work has focused on energy. "Energy is not just electricity, transportation and heat, it is everything: food, shelter, health and happiness.  Our current society has an enormous energy deficit and we are rapidly approaching bankruptcy.  In order to restore an energy balance, we must examine not only the science, but also the economics and society, to determine the best technologies and practices." Ms. Murphy has worked as project manager for local renewable energy companies, is a volunteer member on the Town of New Paltz's Environmental Conservation Board, and is also an Energy and Efficiency Consultant for Bard College.  In addition, she is founder and contributor for, a blog dedicated to reporting on the latest in clean technology and policy.

Sean Fitzgerald is the 2011 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. He is currently working toward earning his Bachelor degree in Marine Vertebrate Biology and Environmental Science from SUNY Stony Brook University. Upon graduation from Stony Brook he plans to continue pursuing his studies in a PhD program. It is his long term goal to devote his professional life to the conservation and restoration of biodiversity through any and all appropriate means. "I feel that I personally owe it to our own generation, generations to come, and most importantly the species that cohabitate the globe with us, to devote my career to saving and restoring as much of the natural world as I can."

Laura Bendernagel is the 2010 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. She is currently working towards earning her Bachelor degree in Earth and Environmental Engineering from Columbia University with plans to continue her education post-graduation. It is Ms. Bendernagel's career goal to use her professional skills to work with fellow engineers and governing policymakers to develop and implement clean, sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels on a large scale. "I hope my efforts will encourage others to realize that their actions, however small they may seem, have environmental consequences and that living more sustainably does not mean a decrease in the joy of life today, only a brighter tomorrow."

Meredith Van Horn is the 2009 recipient of the $3,500 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. She received her BA in Political Science from Boston College in 2003, and went on to earn her MA in Global Environmental Policy from American University in 2007. Ms. Van Horn is currently working towards earning her JD and Certificate in Environmental Law from Pace University School of Law, where she currently works as a research assistant under Professor Nicholas Robinson, helping to draft chapters of a new textbook on climate change. She is also a legal intern at Zarin & Steinmetz, an environmental boutique firm. Ms. Van Horn's goal is to "educate the public and encourage legislation to mitigate the impacts of climate change and create solutions to adapt to the changes it will bring." Van Horn has had many years of experience in pursuing her career in environmental law, and works tirelessly to achieve her goal of working as a lawyer for the environment. "For me, protecting the environment is not just a career path; it is a way of life, a moral choice."

Andrea Caruso is the 2008 recipient of the $2,000 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. Ms. Caruso earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Binghamton University, and continued her education at Purchase College. A native New Yorker, Ms. Caruso, plans to continue her studies on watershed land, particularly biotic and abiotic factors and their interaction and effect on invasive organisms, and the impacts on the health of the land and water. "Without sound land use practices, threats of decreased primary production, as well as erosion, runoff and nutrient loading are likely to increase." Her goal is to develop strategies for the prevention and management of invasive organisms. Ms. Caruso will be pursuing her Master of Science degree in Biological Studies this fall at Fordham University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Jessica Rogers is the 2007 recipient of the $2,000 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. Ms. Rogers is pursuing her Ph.D. in Columbia University's E3B program (Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology). Although her work has spanned the globe, this scholarship will assist her in pursuing research on invasive species in the Hudson Valley region. In addition to using GIS technology, field visits, and plant species composition analyses, Ms. Rogers will work to engage local landowners and local governments to cooperate as a united front. A common denominator in her research and experience has been conservation. According to Ms. Rogers, "conservation should be experienced as well as understood, and combining both in any project has been my goal."

Jessica Steinberg is the 2006 recipient of the $2,000 Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund Scholarship. Enrolled in a joint degree program with Bard College and Pace Law School, Jessica will earn her Master in Science and Juris Doctor degrees. While at Pace Law School she has been the Vice Chair of the Grading Committee for the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. Ms. Steinberg says that with her joint degrees, she will "be equipped to encourage sound environmental policies and fight for stricter conservation regulations, which in turn will ultimately benefit the tri-state region."