Since 2014, the Methow Valley Fly Fishers (MVFF) Club has awarded college scholarships to Liberty Bell High School graduates who plan to pursue a degree in environmental science, fisheries or wildlife biology, or who have an interest in the enhancement and improvement of fisheries or a desire to serve in fish and wildlife law enforcement. In 2019, Liberty Bell graduate Cece Odell received the $2,000 Al Green Fisheries Enhancement Scholarship, named to honor a founding member of the club.
Now a senior at the University of San Diego, Cece is majoring in environmental science with a minor in environmental policy. Cece spent this past summer as an intern with NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) working as a data analyst and on the Rachel Carson research vessel in Puget Sound.
The research team Cece was working with studied respiration-induced acidification and the degree to which this acidification is affecting various ocean parameters, such as oxygen, dissolved inorganic carbon, and pH.
On the final day of her Puget Sound research cruise, Cece says that she had an “extremely magical experience” when the boat got about 15 feet from a pod of at least 20 orcas. “Since a very young age I have been fascinated by whales and this was such a full circle moment — to be able to see that many orcas in their wild habitat.”
The experience, Cece says, “really solidified my love for the natural environment and all of the extraordinary species within it.”
The internship has infused Cece with additional excitement about completing her degree and entering a career in environmental science. She looks forward to using her degree to engage in conservation and sustainability projects, as well as influence legislation that will enforce rules and regulations around human impacts on the environment.
The Al Green Fisheries Scholarship is granted as a one-year award, but the Methow Valley Fly Fishers Club reserves the right to renew the award, which they did for Cece in 2020.
Although she is not certain what lies ahead for her after graduation, Cece thinks it’s possible she will return to the Methow Valley later in life because “this is a beautiful place with great people.” The personal interest that the MVFF club members showed in Cece and her education was a confidence boost for her and “reflects the ethics of this community,” MVFF club members noted.
Liberty Bell class of 2022 member and valedictorian Eli Neitlich was the recipient of the award in the most recent group of graduates, but he has only been at college for a couple of weeks so it’s too soon to make any predictions about what specific direction he’ll go in academically.
The Al Green Fisheries Enhancement Scholarship will be offered again in 2023. LBHS seniors interested in applying for the scholarship should pay close attention to the college counselor’s updates on scholarship applications and deadlines.