Lauren Ray, a graduate of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, has been named the state’s 2013 “Student Conservationist of the Year” by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation.
Ray, 22, of Fayetteville was honored at the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet in Bryant on Sat., Aug. 24. She is a 2013 summa cum laude graduate of the University of the Ozarks, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology.
Ray is the education and outreach coordinator for the Illinois River Watershed Partnership in Cave Springs.
“Lauren has demonstrated an unrivaled dedication to the natural environment in Arkansas, and she does a wonderful job of coordinating our educational camps, workshops and events to help teach people about the Illinois River Watershed, local wildlife, volunteerism, outdoor safety and water conservation,” said Dr. Delia Haak, executive director of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership. “We are so lucky Lauren is part of our team.”
Ray was named the University of the Ozarks’ “Most Exceptional Outdoor Leader” for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. She won the 2013 “Hurie Award,” which is the highest honor a University of Ozarks student can receive.
From 2011 to 2013, Ray served as president of the Ozarks Outbackers, a student organization participating in conservation-related community service projects. From 2012 to 2013, she was president of the Planet Club, a student group focused on promoting sustainability, conservation and environmental consciousness.
She has spent numerous months abroad, studying conservation biology in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, rainforest ecology in the Colombian Amazon and Mayan agriculture in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. She recently completed a study trip focused on the history of the U.S. National Park System, emphasizing the ideals of conservation and preservation in America since the early 1900s.
Ray is the daughter of David and Lisa Ray, and the granddaughter of Hugh Benson, all of Springdale.