Press Release, Make The Connection

Learning, Growing, Connecting

February 25, 2020 – by Cole Hatcher

Through its OWU Connection program, Ohio Wesleyan awards three rounds of competitive Theory-to-Practice Grants each academic year. The latest grants will send students to Chile, France, New Zealand, South Africa, and Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Schmitter ’12)

Ohio Wesleyan Students Earn Grants to Support Academic, Research, and Internship Experiences

DELAWARE, OHIO – Caring for baby penguins in South Africa. Learning about climate adaptation from lizards in France. Interning with a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Ohio Wesleyan University students will complete these academic, research, and internship experiences – and others – using more than $42,000 in newly awarded Theory-to-Practice Grants, part of The OWU Connection program.

Ohio Wesleyan awards three rounds of the competitive, university-funded grants each academic year – one round during fall semester and two in the spring. Here are the first round of spring 2020 grant recipients and their projects:

  • “SANCCOB Summer Penguin Nursery Internship,” submitted by junior Jenn Douglas of Easton, Maryland. Douglas will spend the summer working with SANCCOB, the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, in Cape Town, South Africa. From mid-May to mid-August, she will help to care for baby African Penguins, including feeding, hydrating, and medicating the birds.
  • “Understanding Species Response to Climate Change: A Case Study with Lizards in the Pyrenees,” submitted by Eric Gangloff, Ph.D., assistant professor of zoology, with sophomore Wyatt McQueen of Heath, Ohio; sophomore Ciara Pettit of South Euclid, Ohio; junior Sierra Spears of Bowling Green, Ohio; and sophomore Princeton Vaughn, whose military family relocates frequently. In June and July, they will travel to the Pyrenees mountains of southern France to collect data regarding how certain lizards are affected by climate change. The research will help to test hypotheses of how species respond to changes in their environment.
  • “Chile’s ‘Route of Parks’: A Model for Public-Private Conservation,” submitted by William Hayes, M.A., associate chaplain and director of wilderness ministries, in collaboration with junior Karli Bigler of Aurora, Ohio; junior Evan Cook of Long Beach, California; and senior Lena Ison of Oakmont, Pennsylvania. In January 2021, the group will spend a week exploring the new “Route of Parks” in southern Chile to learn about the U.S.-based Tompkins Conservation and its public-private model for land conservation and park creation in the country.
  • “Building Bridges, Spreading Knowledge: An Internship with The Wilson Center,” submitted by junior Sierra Mainard of Manchester, Connecticut. From mid-May to mid-August, Mainard will live in Washington, D.C., and work with The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, considered one of the world’s Top 10 think tanks focused on public policy. She will intern with the center’s Latin American Program.
  • “Coast and Waterway Conservation in New Zealand,” submitted by sophomore Kylee McFarland with junior Destiny Braden, both of Granville, Ohio. In June and July, they will complete a cultural and conservation volunteer experience in New Zealand, working to remove invasive species, plant native trees, restore whitebait (freshwater fish) habitat, participate in large-scale coastal cleanups, and help control pests for the country’s endangered native animals.

After the students complete their OWU Connection experiences, they will prepare reports and presentations based on their objectives and experiences, with many presenting at the annual Student Symposium in the spring.

The OWU Connection, the university’s signature program, is designed to help students think big (understand issues from multiple academic disciplines), go global (gain international perspective), and get real (translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience). The OWU Connection includes Theory-to-Practice Grants, Travel-Learning Courses, mentored research, internships, and more. Learn more about The OWU Connection at www.owu.edu/owuconnection.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.