Zachary Spindler-Krage ’25 Named Udall Scholar

May 03, 2024

Grinnell College student Zachary Spindler-Krage ’25 was selected as a Udall Scholar by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. The Udall Foundation awards scholarships and special honors to college sophomores and juniors for study in fields related to the environment and to Native Americans and Alaska Natives in fields related to health care and Tribal public policy.

Spindler-Krage, a political science major and policy studies concentrator from Rochester, Minnesota, seeks to improve environmental outcomes in Minnesota through environmental advocacy and journalism. “In my career, I plan to work toward the protection of the vulnerable communities most at risk of being affected by environmental injustices,” said Spindler-Krage.

The Udall Scholarship provides a $7,000 scholarship for the 2024–25 academic year and a five-day Scholar Orientation in Arizona this August. Prior to the orientation, he will be working as a journalist at The Denver Post — carving out a beat reporting on environmental topics including Colorado River rights, wildfires, and Indigenous tribes in the region.

“This scholarship is a good reminder that there’s a large group of young people who envision a better environmental future. We may all care about a different aspect or place, but there is a unified desire to prioritize environmental justice,” said Spindler-Krage. “I’m deeply excited to learn from the other scholars about how they’ve found success in staying hopeful that a more sustainable future is feasible.”

During the 2023–24 academic year, Spindler-Krage held an internship with the United States Environmental Protection Agency developing and teaching K-5 environmental education lesson plans in Grinnell on topics including water quality, energy, and environmental injustice. He interned for the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., in summer 2023 supporting research on innovative policies that could help move the United States toward a more sustainable future.

In summer 2022, he interned with the Save the Boundary Waters Campaign where he advocated at the state and federal level for the protection of the pristine wilderness in northern Minnesota from the threat of proposed copper mining. That collective work resulted in a 20-year mining ban announced by the Department of Interior in January 2023. Working as a virtual communications intern for FairVote Minnesota in spring semester 2023, he extended his advocacy for the adoption of statewide Ranked Choice Voting.

On campus you will find Spindler-Krage serving on the Rosenfield Program Committee, writing for the Scarlet & Black Newspaper, singing in Grinnell Singer’s choir, and contributing to other publications like Rootstalk Prairie Journal and Grinnell Press. As a freelance journalist, he contributes articles about the necessity of land conservation in northern Minnesota to statewide publications like MinnPost, Minnesota Reformer, Post Bulletin, and Duluth News Tribune and about political decisions in Iowa news outlets like Iowa Capital Dispatch and Iowa Starting Line.

“Zach without a doubt is among the most engaged, inquisitive, and thoughtful young minds I know,” shared Sandra Hamid, former Grinnell College visiting professor. “These great features are coupled with his strong commitment to public service which is anchored on the betterment of people.” His application was also supported by Barbara Trish, professor of political science at Grinnell College, and Becky Rom, volunteer national chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

Spindler-Krage is a Grinnell College Founder’s Scholar and a Truman Scholarship 2024 Finalist. He is the fourth Udall Scholar in Grinnell’s History and was the eighth Udall Honorable Mention in spring 2023. The Udall Foundation awards typically 55 Udall Scholarships and 55 honorable mentions each year.

The Udall Undergraduate Scholarship honors the legacies of the Udall brothers, whose careers had a significant impact on the stewardship of public lands and natural resources and American Indian and Alaska Native self-governance and health care. It is awarded for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to the environment, health care, and tribal public policy. The newly selected undergraduate students join a Udall Alumni Network of change-makers, working in Indian country and environmental fields, sharing innovative ideas, professional advice, and job/internship opportunities.

For more information about applying for the Udall Scholarship contact Ann Landstrom, fellowships and awards advisor, and also visit the Udall Foundation website.

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