A senior wildlife and fisheries major at Mississippi State is a new national Barry M. Goldwater Scholar.
Mitchell D. "Mitch" Weegman of Winona, Minn., is among nearly 280 university students being honored this year with the official U.S. tribute to the late former Arizona Republican senator and prominent American statesman.
In addition to membership in MSU’s Shackouls Honors College, Weegman is a member of the Bulldog track team. The son of Dale and Lise Weegman, he is a Winona High School graduate who simultaneously took classes at Winona State University before coming to the Magnolia State in the fall of 2007.
Established more than two decades ago, the awards are presented annually by the Springfield, Va.-based Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Provided for one or two years, they cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
"Mitch is MSU’s 12th Goldwater Scholar," said Nancy McCarley, Shackouls Honors College director. "The scholarship was created in 1986 to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering, and is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields."
McCarley said Weegman, who is specializing in wildlife science and planning a career as a waterfowl biologist, earlier was awarded an undergraduate research award by MSU’s College of Forest Resouces. "Mitch came here to study under Dr. Rick Kaminski, and has focused his research on population declines of the lesser scaup," she explained.
The lesser scaup (Athya affinis) is considered among the most abundant and widespread of North America’s diving ducks.
Kaminski is the college’s associate dean and holder of the James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair (professorship) in Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation. A Wisconsin native and 25-year MSU faculty veteran, he is a nationally recognized research scientist included last year on Outdoor Life magazine’s list of 25 individuals making major contributions to hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports.
"As waterfowl and wetland programs decline and disappear at universities around the U.S. and Canada, I am comforted knowing that Mitch Weegman has his sights set accurately on dedicating his career to waterfowl populations and habitats," Kaminski wrote in a letter of recommendation. "Indeed, I am confident that Mitch will be one of the leaders of the ‘flock.’"
In addition to his academic achievements, Weegman is a member of the M-Club athletic letter organization and campus chapter of the Mississippi Wildlife Society. He also serves as editor of the College of Forest Resources Dean’s Council.