A small group of outdoorsmen and women recently took on a project that would give an award to some local youngster that showed a caring attitude toward hunting, fishing and most importantly conservation. It would be called the George H. Block Conservation Scholarship.
One résumé stood out and that young lady, Elska Hoelsken, from Clinton and attends Burgettstown High School, was our recipient.
“Throughout my life, I have had a passion for conservation of nature. Being the youngest member of the Chartiers Nature Conservancy at six months old, I was raised in a family that promoted environmental conscientiousness. During the summer of 2016, I volunteered at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. This past spring, I volunteered at local Raccoon Creek State Park. But the most considerable experience I had was my 2017 summer job.
“I worked for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in the Student Conservation Association (SCA) Pittsburgh Outdoor Corps Crew. I traveled to state parks up to an hour outside the Pittsburgh area where I worked on numerous projects. These projects included building a bridge at Jennings State Park; widening four miles of trail at Raccoon Creek State Park; inventorying over 1,500 trees in New Kensington and installing natural erosion control at Moraine State Park.
“Many of the skills these projects required, I did not initially have. Through hands-on-teaching, I learned how to lessen damage to the environment by conforming human wants or needs to liaise with nature.
“I always knew I would somehow be involved with conserving the environment or just living green in general, but it wasn’t until after the SCA, that I knew without a doubt I would be an environmental scientist. I have been accepted to Pennsylvania University’s College of Agricultural Science. I am ecstatic for what my future holds and hope to continue conservation work for as long as I can.”