October 16, 2016

I go up to Ely, Minnesota every autumn to canoe in the Boundary Waters wilderness.  I spent the most content six months of my life there in 1992, when I was in the woods 100 days  working as a volunteer for the Forest Service during a leave of absence I took from my medical practice.  My ties with Ely are so strong that I sponsor several scholarships at Vermilion Community College (VCC).

The day before my last annual canoe trip, when in Ely packing to go into the woods, I visited Patti Zupancich, Executive Director of the VCC Foundation.  We spoke about the political situation, bemoaning the constant fact that the community colleges in Minnesota need a lot more funding than they are getting. Sadly, while the VCC scholarship pool has doubled in the last decade, scholarships are a very small drop in the bucket compared to what is needed.  Community Colleges are important.  I volunteer in the math lab at Lane CC here in Eugene, and from the students I see, the community college is the only way for those who didn’t learn math in school to learn it.  Yes, 50 year-olds need to learn how to deal with fractions. If you don’t think I see those people come in some time. I’m there a lot.

Back to Ely.  Patti also is the counselor, the sounding board, and the liaison between the few African-American students who come to Ely and the town.  VCC has no athletic scholarships, and Ely is a white town in very redneck northern Minnesota.  I judge how an election year is going by the number of Republican signs I see on the drive up.  I only saw two between Cloquet and Ely, and one house that always sported one didn’t this year.  That tends to bode well.

Several of the students were outright afraid of what might happen to them. Why not?  Mr. Trump has been spouting racial epithets for over a year.  He has galvanized a host of right wing groups: white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, anti-semites, alt-Right, and while his Twitter account doesn’t have them, his campaign staff does, with at least two dozen such groups with whom they are in contact. I know that through the Southern Poverty Law Center’s emails. Patti said that an African-American student told her a homeowner near campus put a noose up by his house.  I thought lynching was replaced by lunching in this country, but Mr. Trump has brought the word back into common use. Patti went by the house and didn’t see the noose, but she did see a ladder by the tree.  And while the noose is no longer there, the one in southern Oregon, hanging Ms.Clinton in effigy, is.  This is bullying, racism, sexism and fascism.  I was stunned and angry; my wife was incensed.  And so we decided to “pull a Malheur” on Trump.  An explanation is in order.

When Malheur Wildlife Refuge was occupied last January, Zach and Jake Klonoski set up a donation site for four organizations whose values were as contrary to the values of the occupiers as possible: Friends of Malheur, the Paiute Tribe, Americans for Social Responsibility (Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly’s effort to change the makeup of Congress to make what most of think are commonsense laws regarding background checks), and the Southern Poverty Law Center. One made a pledge, which would be multiplied by the number of days the occupation lasted. In other words, the longer the occupation lasted, the more the occupiers were funding organizations they hated. A total of 1643 of us contributed nearly $136,000.

At Vermilion, funding from Access Opportunity Success (AOS), state funds, helps support groups, diversity education, and recreational opportunities for students of color as well as financial assistance awards to individual students (scholarships, textbook awards, assistance with housing deposits.)

AOS Scholarships are one-time awards for students returning for the following fall or students who will be taking summer classes through Vermilion to complete their two year degrees.

Currently, my scholarships at VCC are (1) One in our name that is given to a student, selected by the faculty, who is studying for a career that will involve the wilderness.  It has been awarded for 11 years.  (2) One in conjunction with the Friends of the Boundary Waters.  (3) Three for Veterans, which will this year needs a name.  My wife says I ought to name it after myself.  I said no, but not far below the surface, I need to know that something I did will live on after me.  I don’t know why it should matter since I won’t be around, but it does.

I hadn’t planned on giving any other scholarships, but after hearing about the noose, one way I can fight racism is to do things that are directly contrary to the values of the racists, like supporting a person of color in Ely.

I told Patti that I would cover whatever the College couldn’t cover this year, given that they are subject to funding constraints for the AOS Scholarships.  I will to go back up to Ely next April for the scholarship banquet, to which I haven’t been since 2013.  It’s a long trip, not cheap, but I can tie it into some time in the wilderness, before fishing season, when the lakes are quiet, and campsites haven’t been visited in 7 months.  I know exactly where I want to go.  Two or three days later, I’ll come out of the woods, shower at VCC, and wait around for the banquet that night at the Grand Ely Lodge.  I get considerable pleasure out of hearing my name being called to present my scholarship and the little buzz in the room when the audience is told I’m from Eugene, Oregon.  (There was a buzz with Tucson, Arizona, when I lived there.)

Oregon will probably be pronounced wrong.  I’m not a native, so I won’t correct it.  Don’t laugh; one VCC alumnus, a guest speaker in 2012, was from Portland, and the first thing he said when he began to talk was how to pronounce the state’s name.  Oregonians are like that.

In any case, I will have a smile on my face as I do one concrete thing that sticks it to the racists.  No, it’s not huge, but you see, I’m doing something positive. That’s important.  Positive stuff matters.  Do a lot of it. It doesn’t have to be a scholarship.  It might just be a letter to the editor, or calling people out who state racist, sexist, derogatory comments that have no place in civilized society.  If we don’t do this, and don’t it soon, we risk be dragged through the mud of fascism and taking the whole world with us.

Not only will I feel better, one more young person will have money he or she didn’t plan on having, I will be in the woods in late April, and my subsequent September trip will equalize the number of canoe trips in the Boundary Waters-Quetico with my age. Don’t laugh.  I find that important, too.


April 26, 2014

“What sort of person reads SIERRA?”  An editorial suggested four ads, “which would depict you in split screen”:  Take a look; I wrote them verbatim, my comments in italics:


  • grinning like a loon while riding your folding bike to work and then giggling on the back of your girlfriend’s tandem as you cycle past wetlands that you helped save from bulldozers.  [loons don’t grin; I’ve seen thousands.  Why the back of the tandem?  Isn’t that sexist?  Women can be stronger than men.  Besides, the best wetlands are nowhere near cycling routes.]
  • hoisting your sweaty self up a 5.10 granite face and then kicking back under a camp lantern reading The Botany of Desire.  [I guess I don’t belong, since I don’t rock climb.  I haven’t read the book, either.  Shameful.]
  • giving a thumbs-up to the crew who put solar panels on your house in the morning and then battering your way through Class V rapids at sunset.  [Oh wow, the average member can plunk down $10,000 for panels, more for a good Kayak and go through Class V rapids, which aren’t exactly everywhere, requiring a lot of training.  Where does the money and the time to train come from?  By the way, “the crew” probably spoke Spanish and don’t own Kayaks, let alone the means to get to Class V rivers, but hey, you are special.]
  • admiring a scarlet macaw in your binoculars and then admiring the way your flip-flops look on the sustainable flooring you installed to protect that rainforest.  [Here, Spanish speakers have an advantage, because unless you live in Central or South America, you didn’t see the Macaw (the national bird of Honduras) and then admired your sustainable flooring.  Additionally, the flooring, like most of ours, is probably on cement, the production of which is a major cause of CO2 emission.]

I’m not about to ditch the Club over this, only diss it.  I wrote the editor “‘I’m obnoxious and outspoken when I read outlandish orations what I ought to be accomplishing every hour.”  No worry, marketers aren’t interested in guys my age.  These ads make the Club sound like it is for world class, superrich, world-saving Yuppies, who don’t have to work the hours most do, and weren’t required to serve in Uncle Sam’s fighting forces.  School and the military took me through my 20s. I was well into my 30s before I had the chance to explore much of the world.

Much as I don’t care for the NRA, “I’m the NRA” is a powerful ad.  Calling guns “rifles” softens the name of the organization.  The National Gun Association would be dead on arrival, and I am amazed nobody has said that.  For people who are highly educated, Sierra Club folks and other liberal thinkers have lost almost every battle on language to those who don’t understand a lot of English grammar, but sure know how to string a few words together well.  John Kerry looked elitist on a kite board; Dukakis may have lost the election when he rode a tank; George W. Bush was a guy you could have a beer with.  Frankly, I want a president who is a hell of a lot smarter than I, but most people don’t think like me.  Let’s see if I can figure out how they do think.

The Club is perceived by many as elitist that says NO to everything. The NGA, and you know whom I mean, also says no, but is not elitist.  That is a huge difference.  Most Americans are not elite, jealous of the elite, feel the elite have too much money, too much everything, and care more about the environment than jobs and people.  They aren’t convinced we can have both jobs and protect the environment.  And they vote.

The four ads portray members as wine sipping yuppies, doing things the average American doesn’t, and to quote my late father, think their shit don’t stink.  I think the NGA stinks, but I’m among the first to admit that a lot more people relate to it than to the Sierra Club.

I’m old; neither pretty nor charismatic, but an ad featuring a guy like me might be understood by more people who want to know what the Club is about.  Put me in split screen, driving into Kearney with a 3 on the floor rusty, old Ford F-150 with “8” or “9” on the Nebraska plates, waving the tip of a finger to oncoming vehicles (those are Hall and Buffalo counties, by the way; everybody in Nebraska knows they are rural), and saying, “I’m Mike Smith, and I’m a Sierra Club member, I have a Duck Stamp, and I’m helping out at one of the great migrations in America.”  Trust me: Having a Duck Stamp matters.  Hunters need one, and it’s a bone of contention to them that non-hunters don’t buy them. I don’t blame hunters for their anger.  I continue, truck bouncing, “A lot of folks think we are anti-hunting.  We aren’t. Hunting gets kids outside. I like that.  America’s special outdoor places are under attack by those who haven’t seen a full Moon rise, mist on a lake full of waterfowl, heard rain on the roof of a tent, or felt the tug of a bass on a line.”


The migration of Sandhill Cranes, Nebraska.

The migration of Sandhill Cranes, Nebraska.

Split screen: showing me by my old tent on a clear spot in the wilderness, wearing every bit of clothing I’ve brought.  Then the next night I’m wearing a sweater and hiking boots–show the boots– presenting a small scholarship, in memory of two Minnesotans who died in Iraq, at the Vermilion Community College banquet, to a young woman from the Iron Range studying for a job in wilderness management.  That happened.

Split screen:  I’m paddling out of the Boundary Waters on Fall Lake, grubby, after a few days in the woods, and an hour later, eating a scone at a small town bakery in Ely and looking at a real fishing guide’s picture of a 32 1/2 inch walleye he caught and threw back. This is small town America.  Yeah, that happened last September.  I wrote about it.

Split screen:  My wife lungeing a horse, and the next week, wearing a very different outfit portaging 45 pounds around Pipestone Falls and later hanging food away from bears up on Jackfish Bay on Basswood Lake.


Jackfish Bay, Basswood Lake

Jackfish Bay, Basswood Lake

Yeah, it’s a bit corny, but it is better than sustainable flooring.  I use fossil fuels; we all do.  Let’s not kid ourselves.

If the Club wanted to be really green, it would hammer incessantly against overpopulation, which may cause our demise.   Want to be green?  Don’t have children.  Nothing else comes close.  Want to save American wilderness?  Limit immigration, too, since we can’t take in the world, any more than we can defend it or save it.  Wow, my hissy fit has just dissed the Club, pissed off every reader and kissed my reputation goodbye.

I won’t be missed.





Spring Creek, Boundary Waters Canoe Area, late April 2013.  I camped within 50 yards of the right side of the photograph.

Spring Creek, Boundary Waters Canoe Area, late April 2013. I camped within 50 yards of the right side of the photograph.

The outdoors must be protected for future generations, hunters and non-hunters.  That is what the Club is about.

The outdoors must be protected for future generations, hunters and non-hunters. That is what the Club is about.


April 22, 2014

I walked along the west shore of Clear Lake on a beautiful spring day in the foothills of the Oregon Cascades, temperature in the mid-60s, few clouds, a wide open trail before me.  I had a good hike ahead, in a boreal forest, circling Clear Lake, the headwaters of the McKenzie River.  The water here eventually would join with the Willamette near Eugene, reaching the Columbia in Portland, on the way to the Pacific.  This was big tree country, and not far to the east, I saw snow on the Cascades.

Near Clear Lake Lodge, still closed for the season, I stopped by a bench with a plaque remembering a man, “1920-1984”.  I’ve seen many other memorials to those who made a difference to others.  This man deeply touched somebody, probably many somebodies, never seeing his 65th birthday that I saw nearly five months ago. I felt very lucky….but very mortal, too.

I’ve seen memorials to 42 year-olds, 51 year-olds, and of course, the occasional 83 year-old.  The first memorial I remember was one I helped create, to a 17 year-old high school classmate who died unexpectedly right after graduation, during thyroid surgery.  At Rowe Sanctuary, there are two viewing blinds named for donors, people who loved the Sandhill Cranes and made a difference.  The first trip of the year is a memorial to a man whom I met briefly when I was there in 2008.  He died much too soon.  There is a memorial trail at Rowe and a beautiful white rock commemorating a woman, “1945-2005,” too young, “She loved the Sandhill Cranes” is written on the rock.

I read the plaque on the bench and continued walking.  Wow. I am 65, and can still hike, backpack, and canoe.  I would later see mountain bikers, a deep blue spring that would help me understand Crater Lake’s color, and earlier visited two waterfalls.  I was exploring Oregon, late in life, but not clear how late.  Not being clear on how late makes me fortunate.  When one knows how much time is left, there usually is a bad reason.

I hear many say age is a number; all are far younger than I.  Many have never had their bodies betray them.  They think 60 is the new 40; 80 is the new 60.  I suspect eighty is eighty.  I hiked the Brooks Range when I was 63, carrying 75 pounds.  A 71 year-old hiked the Arrigetch Peaks with me in 2007.  I’d like to backpack when I am 71, but I’ll be happy to do two more in Alaska, this year and next.  Last year, I portaged a wooden canoe a mile.  The guy with me, 10 years younger, carried it better, and I was in good shape.  Ten years matters at my age, and it will matter more and more.  My clock is ticking, and I am not so foolish as to think I have all the time I want.  I don’t.  I’ve had more than many, and I am grateful.

Arrigetch Peaks, Alaska.  Gates of the Arctic National Park.  The two are called "The Maidens"(1700 M), the one in the distant shot is "Elephant's tooth"  (1100 M)

Arrigetch Peaks, Alaska. Gates of the Arctic National Park. The two are called “The Maidens”(1700 M), the one in the distant shot is “Elephant’s tooth” (1100 M)


Arrigetch Peaks from “The Knob,” about 5 miles and 2000 feet of climbing through thick brush, rock fields and no trail. This takes a full, difficult day to two. The 8 miles from the Alatna River takes a day and a half. At the time, it was the most difficult hike I had ever done in my life.


I also need to touch others in some way, too, difficult, because I like to be alone.  Indeed, when I posted my hike’s pictures on Facebook to the few who follow me, I made the comment, “No, Facebook, I didn’t have anybody with me.  I went alone, and that was the idea.”  I go into the woods because I periodically must.

Perhaps my need to touch others is why next weekend I will volunteer cleaning up trash in Alton Baker Park, well downstream from the McKenzie, along the Willamette.  I need to give back in some way that works for me and helps others.  I’ve been blessed.  I made it to 42, 53, and yes, 64.  I haven’t done what many great people have done, but I have seen many lovely parts of the world…..and years that too many never had the opportunity.  Perhaps as a doctor I helped some see a few more years, or to see the years they had better.  I don’t know; mostly, I helped people spend their last days in dignity, not doing anything for them that they or their family didn’t want.  I certainly succeeded in that regard with my parents.

I occasionally think of whether I would want a memorial, and I don’t know. My father-in-law had part of a hospital named for him while he was alive to appreciate it.  I liked that.  I do know that I need to leave the world behind better, even if only a little better, than it was when I arrived.  My wife and I named a scholarship at Vermilion Community College after ourselves.  A student will receive that scholarship April 24, the 9th year we’ve had it.  We lived to see the joy on a student’s face; some day, the scholarship will be a memorial.

The man for whom the bench was a memorial likely stood where I did today.  In a way, the forest cathedral there is hallowed ground, memorializing him, who loved this special area and was loved by others.  A trail, a rock, a viewing blind, where people come to see a half million Sandhill Cranes is a good way.  The Bob Marshall Wilderness is, too.

Where I first hiked in Tucson, and did so for three decades, I did from what is now the Richard McKee Trailhead, named for an attorney who cared deeply about the environment, and whose last words were “What a beautiful world,” as he died in 1999 from leukemia.  He was 43.

Finger Rock Trail is one of the most challenging and beautiful hikes in southern Arizona.


Sahalie Falls

Sahalie Falls

Koosah Falls

Koosah Falls


The scale on the map, regarding the tree’s height is 1:480.

Clear Lake

Clear Lake

Big Spring

Big Spring


April 29, 2010

I’m a lucky guy–I’ve canoed the Quetico/Superior since 1981, and while I’ve camped from Alaska to Algonquin, northern Minnesota is my favorite destination.  In 1992, I spent 5 months as a volunteer wilderness ranger in Ely, the most content I have been in my life.  But one of my more memorable trips was a recent solo up and back to Pipestone Bay, lasting barely 5 hours.  It was Earth Day and the first time I ever canoed in April.

I went to Ely for the annual Vermilion Community College Foundation scholarship banquet.  For 5 years, my wife and I have sponsored a scholarship for a student selected by the College who is studying environmental or wilderness course work leading to a career in those fields.  I try to attend the banquet to present the scholarship.  It’s our legacy to a town and wilderness we deeply love.

Two days before leaving I realized that if I arrived in Ely early in the day, I could rent a canoe and get on the water.  I was thrilled at the prospect (my wife said, “Why am I not surprised to hear this?”) and made arrangements.  I arrived in Ely at 9 on a perfect traveling day, got the canoe and drove out to Fall Lake.  I quickly shed every layer except for a shirt and PFD, and I could have taken the shirt off as well.  I wore neoprene gloves but really didn’t need them.  I saw nobody, except mergansers, a loon and several immature eagles at the south end of Pipestone Bay. I sat in the sun, enjoying a better view of the falls than I’ve had on the 30-plus times I have hurriedly crossed that portage.  Here’s a video of the falls and a few soaring immature eagles (they are immature because of their lack of a white head and general mottling.)

I contribute to three scholarships:  the amount of money the Foundation annually disburses has doubled since 2005.  I worked with the Friends of the Boundary Waters to create a scholarship in 2008; they and I jointly fund it.  I would also present that scholarship at the banquet, which pleased me no end–an Arizona guy who brought two fine Minnesota organizations together to create something good.

Up on Pipestone, I shot video of immature eagles soaring in a cloudless sky.  After lunch on Newton, I portaged back to Fall, paddling by the campsite where my wife and I stayed on 9/16/2001:  we started that trip on 9/11, unaware of events, heard the next day on Basswood River “the country was shut down,” but had few details and were nervous what we would learn when we exited.  On every trip since, we always note the presence of aircraft.

As a Navy veteran, a shipboard medical officer, I had long wanted to establish a scholarship for veterans, whom I feel should get free education.  Patti Zupancich of the Foundation worked with the Brekke and Langhorst families to allow me to contribute to an existing scholarship in memory of two young Moose Lake cousins who died in Iraq, 6 months apart.  Their aunt would attend the banquet but declined to present the scholarship because she knew how emotionally difficult it would be.  Patti suggested that I present the award, which was met with immediate approval.  I was grateful both families allowed me to contribute; I was deeply moved by their additionally allowing me to present it, one of the greatest honors I’ve ever received.

At 3 p.m., I came off the water, tired, sore and happy to have used muscles that had forgotten what paddling and portaging entailed.  It felt good to do J-strokes, scull, sweep, avoid rocks and portage again.  It felt right to solo in the wilderness.  But it felt odd to know in an hour, I would change from canoe clothes to coat and tie.  I had never done that before.

The banquet is always festive, which must be difficult for those who give memorial scholarships–a gold star family from Wisconsin presents one each year, too.  There is also one in memory of “Jackpine” Bob Cary, given by his daughter.

The recipient of our scholarship was there with his parents.  I enjoyed seeing how happy the three of them were.  The recipient of the Friends scholarship had taken people on tours to Listening Point.  One of the Brekke-Langhorst recipients had spent 4 years in Iraq; his father was also a veteran, and we had an interesting conversation.  The other recipient, a young woman, was ex-Navy; both of us have sailed many tens of thousands of nautical miles on the same seas in different eras.

As expected, presenting the Brekke-Langhorst scholarship was emotional, and I wanted everything to be proper.  The brave young men’s aunt thanked me, but I felt I received more than the recipients.

Every time I give, I seem to receive more.  I’m hoping the Friends get enough support to sponsor a second scholarship.  I hope some of my fellow wilderness travelers will remember those students in Ely, at the edge of the wilderness and on the edge of poverty.  If giving money is not possible, haul out a lot of trash on your next canoe trip.  Do something good for this special wilderness.

In 1938, Sig Olson, Dean of what was then called Ely Junior College, wrote “Why Wilderness?”, stating exactly how I feel on the trail:  the need for “sweat and toil, hunger and thirst, and the fierce satisfaction that comes only with hardship.”   Sig referred to hardship on the trail, not financial hardship.  There’s a scholarship in his name, too, which I want to honor by ensuring hardship stays only where it belongs.


October 1, 2009



The Boundary Waters and Ely have meant a great deal to me.   In 1992, I spent six months as a volunteer wilderness ranger in the BWCA.  I spent 100 days in the woods that year, took 22 different canoe trips, saw nearly 300 lakes and cleaned more than 400 campsites.  I saw first hand how many up there lived, on the edge of the wilderness and frequently on the edge of poverty to stay in this area.  Even in good economies, many are fortunate to survive at minimum wage jobs that are seasonal.  These scholarships at VCC I’ve established or contributed to mean a great deal to my wife and me, for the reasons mentioned above, but also because Sig Olson was Dean from 1935-1947, when the school was known as Ely Junior College.

In 2010, I had a special day.  I arrived in Ely seven hours before the banquet, rented a canoe, and paddled 11 miles up and back from Pipestone Falls on a perfect day, alone, seeing eagles, mergansers and a loon.   I ended up paddling about 11 miles then returned the canoe, changed clothes completely, and presented four scholarships: the Michael and Janice Smith, the Friends of the Boundary Waters, and the Brekke-Langhorst to two recipients

MICHAEL AND JANICE SMITH SCHOLARSHIP – $1,000 award – to a student who will be new to VCC in the fall of 2009 or continuing at VCC in the fall of 2009 and studying environmental or wilderness coursework leading to a career in one of those fields.

Past Winners:

2006–Kelly Bray

2007–Wendy Forss (Kelly and Wendy pictured below)


2008–Katherine Hagsten

2009–Matthew Chopp

2010–Mara Brogan

Mara Brogan

2012–Nathan Kluge

Nathan Kluge, 2012











As a member of the Friends of the Boundary Waters, I thought the organization should sponsor a scholarship.  I was willing to put my money where my mouth is and the Friends did the rest.  My thanks to Paul Danicic and Greg Seitz, whom I met in Minneapolis the morning after the banquet, for their thoughts and idea that we should have the members contribute a little more annually in hopes of establishing a second scholarship.  Sig Olson once wrote that wilderness travelers craved “the fierce satisfaction that comes only with hardship.”  But as Dean, he would not have wanted such hardship to be part of getting an education.  Putting two Minnesota organizations together–the Friends and the VCC Foundation–to create this scholarship was one of the better ideas I’ve had.

FRIENDS OF THE BOUNDARY WATERS WILDERNESS SCHOLARSHIP – $500 award – to a student who will be new to VCC in the fall of 2009 or continuing at VCC in the fall of 2009 studying environmental or wilderness coursework.  From 2012 on, the Scholarship will be presented by the Friends, this year by Ian Kimmer, the Friends’ representative in the Northland.

Past Winners:

2008–Nathan Prokovic

2009–Katherine Hagsten (pictured above with the Smith Award)

2010–Travis Wuori

The third was one that I contributed to as a veteran to one of  the veteran scholarships offered.  Moises Langhorst died in combat on 5 April 2004 in Fallujah, where some of the fiercest combat occurred; his cousin Dale Brekke died from PTSD.   I cannot imagine how the family survived this devastation.  I was deeply honored to be allowed by the family to contribute to this scholarship:  one veteran presenting a scholarship to two other veterans in memory of two brave young men, who never lived to adulthood, who died serving their country.  I was asked by Jeanette (Jet) Cox, their aunt,  to present the scholarship, one of the deepest honors I’ve ever been given.  I’ve long wanted to establish a scholarship for veterans, who frankly ought to be given four years of tuition-free education; I finally was given a chance to do so; I just never expected I would ever present the scholarship.  I am incredibly grateful to Ms. Cox and the Brekke-Langhorst families for creating a memorial, their willingness to allow a stranger to contribute to it, their courage in the face of tragedy I cannot comprehend and requesting I present the scholarship.

DALE ANDREW BREKKE-MOISES ALBERT LANGHORST MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP – two $500 awards – to a student enrolled at VCC who has served in the U.S. military during or since 1998 to the present and/or spouses, parents, or children of those who served in the U.S. military during or since 1998. Preference will be given to those who served in the Middle Eastern theater of operations. Applicants must be in good academic standing. Students who will be new to VCC in the fall of 2009, those continuing at VCC in the fall of 2009, and students graduating from VCC in the spring of 2009 and transferring to another college or university are eligible to apply.

Past Winners:

2008–Brandi Weigandt

2009–Joe Hiller

2010–Steven Pederson

2010–Laurel Heino

2012–Micheal McEvoy


September 11, 2009