BATON ROUGE – LSU junior Alexia LaGrone has been named a Udall Scholar by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. The Lafayette native was one of 55 students from 42 colleges and universities to have been selected as 2021 Udall Scholars. A 20-member independent review committee selected this year’s group of Udall Scholars on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, Tribal public policy, or Native health care; leadership potential; record of public service; and academic achievement.
Each scholarship provides up to $7,000 for the Scholar’s junior or senior year. Since the first awards in 1996, the Udall Foundation has awarded 1,788 Scholarships totaling over $9.1 million.
LaGrone, an Ogden Honors College student majoring in natural resource ecology and management in the College of Agriculture, is a Louisiana Service and Leadership, or LASAL, and Stamps Scholar.
As a campus leader for environmental issues, LaGrone revitalized LSU’s 4-H Club. Under her direction, the 4-H Club volunteered to clean houses and conducted a canned food drive with LSU’s food pantry following the havoc of Hurricane Laura in 2020. She also organized socially distanced activity days for middle and high school aged youth, where students were able to participate in LSU campus tours and learn about healthy living.
This year, LaGrone also encouraged the club to focus on land subsidence in Louisiana by hosting meetings where students learn about wetland and coastal issues from short presentations paired with service events like tree and marsh grass planting to apply the new knowledge.
Through LASAL, LaGrone is completing an internship with the Applied Geoscience Department at The Water Institute of the Gulf.
“I am working with various projects including studying the habitats of gulf sturgeon, examining how crevasse cutting can influence sediment accumulation to rebuild land in the wetlands of the Delta National Wildlife Refuge and how to maintain these wetland habitats using monitoring programs, and considering how green infrastructure will impact Louisiana’s coast in the future,” said LaGrone. “Through studying data, creating models, and organizing information, I’m learning so many things about how different processes influence morphology along the coast. My degree focuses primarily on biology, so learning about geomorphology has made me appreciate the connections between the two fields and my passion for environmental issues continues to grow.”
After graduation LaGrone plans to pursue a master’s degree in environmental justice at the University of Michigan, where she hopes to gain an understanding of the causes of systemic discrimination and its connection to the environment and climate vulnerability. Then, she plans to attend the University of Florida Levin College of Law to pursue a Juris Doctor with a concentration in Environmental Law.
LaGrone aspires to have a career as an environmental lawyer specializing in climate law. She plans to work in Florida, where sea level rise has increased by six inches in the past 31 years and predictions indicate it could rise another six inches in less than 15 more years. “I hope to be on the forefront of creating the blueprint for conservation and environmental protection in the United States,” said LaGrone. “Other countries have used litigation to hold the government accountable for protecting citizens from the effects of climate change and I believe we can use litigation to protect our citizens and our natural resources too.”