Dr. Ron Johnson and Dr. Mary Beck Nature Conservation Scholarship

Awards Given

  • Typically 1 per year

Why Nature Conservation?

Life on Planet Earth needs your help. Nature holds biodiversity, the variety of all of life and life-supporting ecosystems. From the far depths of the oceans to coral reefs to beaches, bayous, forests, prairies, and mountains, the awesome variety of life on Earth, although still strong and awe inspiring, is facing steady decline. Mitigating biodiversity loss is a key global science challenge.

Biodiversity makes the planet interesting, beautiful, and able to sustain people. It is critical to our physical, mental, and social well-being and sense of security. In addition to amazing health benefits, nature provides pollination, pest suppression, medicines, and joy and inspiration from trees, flowers, birds and butterflies. Other benefits, or ecosystem services, are still being discovered and studied.

The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity as “a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives.” As part of that celebration, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, representing 600 million family farmers within 120 national organizations in 80 countries, committed to conserving biodiversity as part of a shared responsibility.

Conservation of nature and biodiversity is a dance for life that promotes wise use, wisdom, and caring today so that tomorrow has the same beauty, bounty, and benefits. Join the nature conservation ballet – discover and lead for all life on Earth.

Reqirements and Expectations

Established in 2018 by Dr. Ron Johnson and Dr. Mary Beck, former CASNR professors.

One $1250 scholarship will be awarded to undergraduate students seeking a degree in nature conservation within CASNR.

  • Demonstrated strong interest and passion for study toward a degree in nature conservation. Nature conservation includes birds and the farms that love them; butterflies, bees and the flowers that invite them; and the diversity of the life forms and habitats that allow the natural world and ours to persist forever. Nature conservation thrives in concert with people through harmony and respect for family farms and rural communities.
  • Student must have clear focus toward conservation of nature and the diversity of life on Earth, with an understanding of the important role of family farms and rural communities.


Undergraduate students with degrees:

  • majors within the School of Natural Resources
    • Applied Climate Science
    • Environmental Restoration Science
    • Fisheries & Wildlife
    • Water Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • Insect Science (Entomology)
  • Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communications
  • Biological Systems Engineering in the College of Engineering

Application Process

Due Date: April of each year

Download Form

If you have any questions, please contact our office at 402-472-2201.

Award Winners

2022-2023Katie Campbell
2021-2022Abigail Schoup
2020-2021Kate Amsus & Alexis Moss
2019-2020Callie McCright
2018-2019Evan Laible

About us ...

Professors Ron Johnson and Mary Beck grew up on different small farms, each with a creek and a flop-eared hound dog. They met as faculty at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and shortly became a family with a daughter and two sons.

After Ron completed his BS degree in Ohio, the Army Infantry invited him to jump out of airplanes, wander through jungles in the dark, and go on a field trip to Vietnam. He made it back and returned to college to learn about birds and farms. Ron served at UNL from 1979 to 2007 as an Extension Wildlife Specialist along with research and teaching. He then continued to do teaching and research at Clemson University until 2013. He’s now a retired professor who enjoys songwriting, guitar, and running on nature-inspired trails and refuge levees.

Growing up in Maryland, Mary participated in 4-H and the county fair, and understood the role of Cooperative Extension in agriculture and natural resources. When a graduate assistantship in Poultry Science rescued her from a student worker job in the dairy barn at the University of Maryland, it marked a major fork in the road of her life. She was hooked by the Land Grant mission and has spent the ensuing years in support of agriculture and natural resources on a number of levels. She served at UNL from 1980 to 2007 in teaching and research, and as an active leader in gender, equity, and governance issues. She then continued as a department head at Clemson University and later at Mississippi State University.

Ron and Mary thank you for your interest in nature conservation and wish you great success in your studies and career. UNL is a grand place to find your path and to move your mark forward.

Ron and Mary
Ron Johnson and Mary Beck