University of Montana Students Named Wyss Scholars

anna wearn and taylor simpson

Anna Wearn, Taylor Simpson, Hannah Leonard, and Daniel Brister have been named The University of Montana’s 2019-20 Wyss Scholars for Conservation in the American West.

The Wyss Scholars Program provides financial support to UM students who are committed to careers in Western land conservation through a federal or state land management agency or at a nonprofit in the region. It is funded through the Wyss Foundation, a private charitable foundation dedicated to supporting innovative, lasting solutions that improve lives, empower communities, and strengthen connections to the land.

Anna Wearn holds degrees in Geography and Spanish from Dartmouth College. She worked for a number of years for the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco prior to joining the Environmental Studies master's program in fall of 2018. Anna is currently a National Forest Foundation Conservation Connect Fellow and Environmental Law teaching assistant. Her goal as a Wyss Scholar is to “learn how to develop, effectively advocate for, and implement scientifically informed policies that safeguard critical habitat for the benefit of threatened species and local communities.”

anna wearn

Taylor Simpson’s degree from Montana State University is in Biological Sciences, concentrated in Ecology and Conservation Biology. He also entered the Environmental Studies master’s program last fall and has primarily focused on policy coursework prior to undertaking his Juris Doctorate in the Blewett School of Law later this year. Taylor believes the joint degree program will provide “a diverse science based background to conservation initiatives” involving wildlife and lands in the west.

taylor simpson

Hannah Leonard earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Montana before pursuing a master’s in Resource Conservation at the Franke College of Forestry and Conservation. Utilizing the field of marketing in terms of data collection and analysis is necessary for our public lands, Hannah states, “if conservation outcomes are to be achieved in a world of limited resources.” She seeks to work with a variety of stakeholders on the collaborative goal of preserving the lands she calls home.

Daniel Brister received his master’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and is in his second year of the Juris Doctorate program in the Blewett School of Law. He has a long history of environmental advocacy and served as the Executive Director of The Buffalo Field Campaign, from which he wrote a book of essays on the herds of Yellowstone. Dan says, “I will spend the rest of my life working with grassroots nonprofit conservation organizations and the tribes in fighting to protect the unique wild landscapes and species of the West.”