Lara Jacobs, a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma, is researching the impact of outdoor recreation on the ecological health of Native Americans' lands. Lara is a first-year ARCS scholar working on her PhD in the College of Forestry's Forest Ecosystems and Society program at Oregon State University. The Oregon State University's Recreation Ecology lab is one of only four in the country.
Lara's Ph.D. project is in collaboration with the Quileute tribe in La Push, Washington where she and The Quileute are looking at the effect of improper disposal of human waste by outdoor recreationist. This bio-contamination of the sands and local shellfish in this area impacts the Quileute's subsistence practices, which in turn brings up the tribe's treaty rights to fish on public lands.
In recognition of her research, Lara received several prestigious awards:
- Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship - This is an incredibly competitive national award. The fellowships are awards to PhD students who are working on research-bases dissertations that demonstrate "superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.
- Thurgood Marshall Scholarship - This scholarship is intended to support the retention of meritorious graduate students whose accomplishments and activities demonstrate leadership, service, and commitment to fostering a just and equitable community.
Lara published an article in the Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and leadership in January titled Gender Terrains. This research was an extension of the work she conducted during her Master's degree at Prescott College. Her subject matter and research focus have changed since then.
The Oregon Chapter of the ARCS Foundation is a contributing sponsor to Lara's research. She was nominated for this scholar award by her college, and she receives funding for three years. The unrestricted funding, significantly aids Lara, her family, and her studies. In addition to the financial benefit, ARCS has given her an interdisciplinary network to build professional contacts.