In memory of Craig Tufts, National Wildlife Federation’s Chief Naturalist, The Craig Tufts Educational Fund was established to send one youth between the ages of 8-18 and an accompanying parent/guardian to attend the Family Nature Summit. The scholarship provides travel, room and board, and program fees.
The scholarship is funded through donations. We appreciate any amount you can send.
Click here or scroll down to see past scholarship recipients.
Who May Apply: Anyone in the continental U.S. between the ages of 8 and 18
Deadline to Apply: TBD
How to Apply: Applicant will submit an original essay that addresses the following:
- What are your favorite outdoor or nature-related activities?
- Describe a memorable nature-related experience and the impact it had on you.
- Describe any experience or experiences you may have had that involved studying or protecting wildlife or the environment.
- What do you hope to gain from the Family Nature Summits program and how do you expect it to help you have a positive impact on your local environment or community?
- Describe how you would share your Family Nature Summit experience with others.
- Add anything else you think would help the judges better understand your interests in nature and the environment.
Each essay MUST …
- Be written by the applicant (not a parent or guardian)
- Be no more than three pages, double-spaced (about 750 words)
- Be typed in a 12-point font or legibly handwritten
- Include page number and applicant’s name on each page
Applications may be submitted via
Past Scholarship Recipients
2017 Scholarship Recipient
“At the Summit, my favorite activities were the early-morning birding hikes every day and the whole-day birding at Washoe Lake. I found many new birds there that I could never see at home, including an American white pelican, a broad-tailed hummingbird, and a young white-faced ibis. Other than birding, my favorite activity was flying high on a zip line. At first it was scary. But I got used to it. Then it was really fun! I liked being with my junior naturalist group, the “River Otters.” We hiked a volcano and saw Lake Tahoe from the top. It was very beautiful. We also went kayaking and swimming. Peggy and Liz, our teachers, were very nice. I found new friends, both grownups and children, and I hope to see all of them again next year.”
2016 Scholarship Recipient
“I had an amazing trip to New Mexico at the Family Nature Summit! I went to New Mexico expecting to learn a lot about the ecology of the desert, but I learned a lot of cool things about the geography, paleontology, history and culture of the area too. One of the most interesting things was how the ancient Native Americans treasured the natural resources of the area and integrated stories about the local ecology into art. Many of the ancient petroglyphs that I saw in some way depicted water or arroyos. And the story of the area’s ecology was also told through images of plants and animals (my favorite was of a four-legged animal playing the flute).
I had a lot of fun hiking, tagging and releasing birds, horseback riding with my Mom, and especially staying up to watch falling stars and look at the Milky Way.
Thank you to Ranger Rick, the Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship, and the Family Nature Summits for this wonderful experience!”
2015 Scholarship Recipient
Aidan Donnelly attended the 2015 Family Nature Summit in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. His week was full of adventures, including zip-lining, canoeing and whitewater kayaking. “I loved every second of it,” says Aidan, 13, “even when I capsized!”
Near his home in New York, Aidan helps tag and release horseshoe crabs. He also works to protect turtle nests on a local beach. He recently completed his Eagle Scout project: leading his troop in building a nest box for a local osprey pair.
2014 Scholarship Recipient
Katherine says, “I’m my family’s favorite Nature-Nut. Explorer is practically my middle name. Whether I’m going Scuba diving or hoping to find a trilobite at the creek, I’m ready for an adventure.” At the 2014 Summit, Katherine took full advantage of all the activities available, including getting up at 5 am for birding!
The article Katherine wrote about her experience for Ranger Rick magazine can be found here (.pdf).
2013 Scholarship Recipient
Thomas’s favorite activity is birding. He is a member of the American Kestrel Partnership (AKP). This Peregrine Fund program was formed to monitor kestrels and investigate why their numbers are declining and helps citizen scientists to get involved in this study. Through the partnership, Thomas set up two nest boxes for these birds and hopes to have a nesting pair soon.
He has trained other kids to care for kestrels in his community. Last year, he did a research project for school on kestrels and made a movie about setting up bird boxes to show his classmates. Here is a link to the YouTube movie he made about it: Movie.
Thomas got to enjoy the Bar Harbour Summit with early morning tide-pooling and adventures in Acadia National Park. He enjoyed the Summit so much that the following year his entire family joined us at Monterey Bay
Who was Craig Tufts?
Craig was everyone’s favorite naturalist. From the moment you met him, you liked what he was thinking and wanted to know more! He was excited about everything living and understood a tremendous amount about the natural world around him, no matter where he was. He could look at an insect under a log and tell you what its name was or what family it was in and what it was related to, what it probably ate for dinner and where it was going to lay its eggs…. It didn’t matter if you were near his home in Northern Virginia or on a mountainside in Colorado, somehow Craig knew and remembered all these details! Being with Craig on a walk was like having a talking field guide beside you, with the words just pouring out. Craig was always happy to point things out to anyone, and was just as excited to see something for the fiftieth time as he was to see it for the first time! Craig worked for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) for 33 years as Chief Naturalist.
What is the Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund?
The Craig Tufts Educational Scholarship Fund is intended to continue Craig’s legacy and to replicate the spark that he provided for so many because of his extensive knowledge of and appreciation for the natural world. The Fund will finance an annual award that recognizes an individual between the ages of 8 and 18 who displays an interest in the natural world. The award aims to foster that interest and encourage a lifelong path of environmental study. It is our hope that the Fund would provide an opportunity for a young person to experience, in a personally meaningful way, NWF’s mission of inspiring individuals of all ages to care about and ultimately act to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat.
How can I contribute to this fund?
If you wish to make a memorial contribution, please consider this fund as a way of carrying on Craig’s legacy. Please make your donation online.