Washington, D.C.—Today, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R. 1035, the Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Amendments Act of 2009, a bill sponsored by Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva.
The legislation would enhance the Morris K. Udall Foundation’s programs and operations. In addition, the legislation would add Stewart L. Udall’s name to the Foundation, to recognize and honor one of the greatest public servants and conservationists in history.
“This legislation will honor legendary public servant Stewart Udall while expanding the Foundation so it can continue to provide the resources and train leaders in environmental issues and Indian country,” stated Grijalva. “I look forward to seeing this bill move through the House and Senate.”
The Morris K. Udall Foundation is an independent federal agency based in Tucson, Arizona, which operates exceptional educational programs focused on developing leadership on environmental and Native American issues. It also includes the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, the only program within the federal government focused entirely on preventing, managing and resolving federal environmental conflicts.
Established by Congress in 1992, the Foundation’s mission was to provide educational opportunities for studies related to the environment and Native American tribal policy and health care. In 1998, Congress expanded the mission to include resolving conflicts related to the environment, natural resources and public lands through services including mediation, facilitation and training.
Through its education programs, the Udall Foundation identifies and educates tomorrow’s leaders in fields that are critical to the energy, climate change and economic issues facing our nation.
The programs include:
•The premier college scholarship and doctoral fellowship for studies related to the environment and a scholarship for Native Americans studying tribal policy or health care.
•The Native American Congressional Internship program placing gifted undergraduate and graduate students in Congress, the Council on Environmental Quality, and Cabinet offices to learn first-hand how Washington impacts their tribes and communities.
•Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy (NNI), which serves as a self-determination, governance, and economic development resource for tribal nations. Through the impact of its tribal executive leadership program, Indian nations are rebuilding their economies. NNI has three primary program areas: Leadership and Management Training, Strategic and Organizational Development, and Research and Policy Analysis.
•The Parks in Focus program, which connects underserved youth to nature through the art of photography, instilling in them a long-lasting understanding of and appreciation for national parks and other public lands.
Among the witnesses was Ms. Clara Pratte, a former Udall Foundation Congressional Intern and currently National Director for the Office of Native American Affairs at the Small Business Administration.
The importance of the program was best stated in a quote from her testimony, “The legacy of the Udall name is indeed a legacy that began long before Mo Udall’s service. Members of the Udall family have been model public servants. Mo’s brother Stewart served both in the US House and later as a Secretary of the Interior where he advocated energy conservation policies that were ahead of the times. It started with the strong values instilled in Stewart and Mo by their family, and continues now with the public service of Udall descendants. I am amazed and humbled by the fact that I sit before you a mere 61 years after Native Americans, including my grandparents, were granted the right to vote in Arizona. Justice Levi Udall, Mo and Stewart’s father, argued for that right stating that “to deny the right to votes…is to do violence to the principals of freedom and equality.”