The Wild Felid Research & Management Association

Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship


The application deadline for the 2021 scholarship is now April 30! 
Click on "Scholarship Application Criteria" below to learn how to apply.


The Wild Felid Research and Management Association began awarding the Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship in 2009 to encourage and support graduate level university students involved in wild felid research. To date, 32 scholarships totaling almost $40,000 have been awarded. The scholarship honors distinguished and dedicated biologists who lost their lives while seeking to understand and contribute to the conservation of wildlife: Dave Maehr, Ian Ross, Rocky Spencer, Eric York, Deanna Dawn, and Donna Krucki.  

This summer WFA awarded 3 Legacy Scholarships. Congratulations go out to Darby McPhail (M.S. Candidate from Virginia Tech), Marlin Dart (M.S. Candidate South Dakota State University) and Camila Dunner (Andres Bello University, Santiago, Chile). Darby was chosen as this year's recipient of the Deanna Dawn Scholarship, which provided an extra $250 award. We would like to thank the great group of students who applied this year. If eligible, we encourage each of them to consider applying again next year. Depending on funding, we will begin taking applications for the 2021 scholarship in January 2021.

Scholarship Application Criteria

Congratulations to our 2020 scholarship recipients! Check out their projects here >
Read about our 2019 recipients here >

Read about our 2018 recipients here>

Read about our 2017 recipients here>

Read about our 2016 recipients here>



To learn about the biologists for whom the scholarship was created, read on. Scholarships are made possible through grants and donations to WFA from The Summerlee Foundation, Dee Dawn, Altria Group, WFA members and other contributors.

Image bullet: Puma track Deanna Dawn (1961 – 2012) — Wildlife Biologist & Consultant; M.S. from San Jose State University, CA; WFA founding member and member of WFA Scholarship and Election Committees.

Click here to make a donation to the Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship in Deanna's honor.

Image bullet: Puma trackDonna Krucki (1956 – 2014) - naturalist, Park Ranger for Orange County, California, and educator who contributed significantly to the understanding of mountain lion ecology and behavior. After retirement, Donna worked full time with the UC Davis southern California mountain lion project.

Click here to make a donation to the Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship in Donna's honor.

Image bullet: Puma track Dave Maehr (1956 – 2008) — University of Kentucky Professor and former Florida Panther Team Leader for the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission.Read a testimonial…

Image: Dave Maehr in his office

Image bullet: Puma track Ian Ross (1958 – 2003) — Canadian biologist who studied a variety of large carnivores, including pumas.                Read a testimonial…

Image: Ian Ross

Image bullet: Puma track Rocky Spencer (1952 – 2007) — Biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, who was dedicated to studying pumas and educating the public on how to coexist with them. Read a testimonial…

Image: Rocky Spencer

Image bullet: Puma track Eric York (1970 – 2007) — Researcher and field biologist expert in capturing and handling wild felids, including snow leopards and pumas. Read a testimonial…

Image: Eric York

Information on applying for the Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship is provided below.

Scholarship Focus in 2021

Scholarships are open to students involved in research on any Western Hemisphere felid in 2021. The Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship will be offered annually as funds allow. This year up to $4000 will be awarded, with each scholarship ranging from $1250 to $1500. Those interested in contributing to an enduring scholarship fund can do so on the Membership page.

Scholarship and Administration

The WFA's Scholarship Committee administers the Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship and selects recipients, who are subject to approval by a majority of the WFA board of directors. The Scholarship Committee reserves the right not to award a scholarship or to award more than one scholarship during a calendar year, depending on the Committee's opinion of the applicants' qualifications and the availability of funds. All Committee decisions are final.

Image bullet: Puma track Application Criteria

Applicants for this year's Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must be a member of the Wild Felid Research and Management Association. (You may submit a membership form with payment to WFA when submitting your scholarship application if you are not currently a member);
  2. Student applicants must have completed a Bachelor of Science (or Arts) Degree by July 1 of this year and be enrolled in a graduate program in Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Management, or a related natural resource field;
  3. Recipients of the Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship agree to provide at least 1 update of their research in the Wild Felid Monitor.

Image bullet: Puma track Application

Student Application components:

  • Current résumé
  • Copy of your undergarduate diploma and your acceptance letter into a graduate program in Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Management, or a related natural resource field.
  • Two letters of reference (including email addresses). One reference shall be from a professor familiar with your academic capabilities and accomplishments. The second reference shall be from a supervisor whom you worked for in a natural resources–related position (volunteer or internship work is acceptable)
  • In a word document: Short essay (500-750 words) describing: (1) your interests in wild felid research; (2) your career goals; (3) how you would use the award to further your professional development; and (4) your demonstration of financial need.
    At the top of your essay, provide the following so we may included it in the summer issue of Wild Felid Monitor: Name and email address; degree applying for; department and university attending; major advisor and his email address; thesis/dissertation title; research objectives; completion date.

To see how committee members score applications, click here >

Image bullet: Puma track Submitting the application

We encourage applicants to send their applications electronically. Please clearly name files with your last name and subject (e.g., Smith WFLS Essay.doc). Emailed copies of scanned transcripts are also acceptable for consideration, though the Scholarship Committee may ask for certified transcripts prior to final selection. References can also send their letters electronically.

Application materials must be received by the
Scholarship Chairperson by MARCH 30.

Address email correspondence to the Scholarship Committee Chairperson: Dr. Marcella Kelly and write 2020 WFLS Application on the Subject Line.

Please try to submit all materials via email. If you must mail any components, Dr. Kelly's address is below.

Marcella Kelly – Associate Professor
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Virginia Tech
146 Cheatham Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0321