Dave Obey Young Adult Civic Engagement Award

Dave Obey Young Adult Civic Engagement Award

Applications are open!

One $1000, non-renewable scholarship will be awarded.
Application deadline April 12, 2024

One $1000 non-renewable scholarship will be awarded to a young person who demonstrates leadership abilities including initiative, integrity and service to others. The review committee will also be looking for demonstration of a commitment to civic engagement through building relationships throughout the community and working toward positive change.

The scholarship is in honor of former Wisconsin Congressman David R. Obey, who served central and northern Wisconsin as a representative from 1969 to 2011. Eligibility for the scholarship requires that the recipient be a resident of or be enrolled in an educational institution located within the district that Congressman Obey served. (See below for specific counties.)

To be considered, the applicant must:

  • Be a college, technical college or university student, aged 18 to 25, either residing in or attending an educational institution within one of the following Wisconsin counties: Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Douglas, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Polk, Portage, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Washburn, Wood
  • Must already have earned a high school diploma.
  • Be enrolled in an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree program during the 2023-2024 academic year, earning at least six credits each semester of the year.
  • Submit an essay of no more than 500 words explaining why they deserve this scholarship.
  • Submit a letter of recommendation from an adult (a non-family member).
  • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Transcripts should NOT be submitted with the application. The selected applicant will be asked to submit a school transcript which includes information on coursework during the 2023-2024 academic year.

Application deadline is April 12, 2024. Apply online by clicking here.
For any questions, email info@wipps.org.

*Employees, interns, board members or fellows of WIPPS and their family members are not eligible for this award.

Previous Recipients

2023 Recipient

Sarina Maki was the recipient of the 2023 Young Adult Civic Engagement Award.

A student at Northland College, Sarina is majoring in Outdoor Education with a minor in Sustainable Agriculture. Not surprisingly, her service to her community takes the form of bringing people together in the great outdoors. She has been a summer camp counselor and, as part of a crew from Northland College, created a new trail at the Mt. Ashwabay Ski and Recreation Area. She has volunteered with the U.S. Forest Service to expand the North Country Trail. She is also part of a kitchen community through the Hulings Rice Food Center.

Aerial Thao

2022 Recipient

Aerial Thao was the recipient of the 2020 Young Adult Civic Engagement Award.

Aerial is a native of Wausau, where she has instructed students in the Wausau School District, women and teenagers at the Women’s Community Center, and members of youth organizations, as well as many others, in the art of self-defense through Rising Son MMA. She has worked as a Hmong liaison for North Central AHEC where she reached out to various members within the Hmong community as an advocate for vaccinations and health insurance. She also acted as a mentor in the AHmong Us program, which provides enrichment opportunities for high school students in Central Wisconsin who are considering becoming a physician.

2021 Recipient
Jaclynn Findlay was the recipient of the 2021 Young Adult Civic Engagement Award.

A native of Oconomowoc, Jaclynn was very active with Northland’s student government throughout her time there. She also works for the City of Ashland, where she started as an intern in the Planning and Development Department, before she achieved her current position as Main Street Manager, a role that requires coordination with numerous entities including the Parks and Recreation Department, Vaughn Library, Chamber of Commerce and downtown businesses.


2020 Recipient

Tala Allan was the recipient of the 2020 Young Adult Civic Engagement Award.

Tala is originally from Palestine and grew up in the United Arab Emirates, where she completed high school. Her volunteer efforts have ranged from helping refugees with basic needs in the UAE, Jordan and Palestine, to coordinating international events at UW Stevens Point, to working on a crisis text line to help those dealing with mental health issues during COVID-19.


2019 Recipient

Katelyn Ziarnik was the recipient of the 2019 WIPPS Young Adult Civic Engagement Scholarship.

She served as a Campus Connector for the Wisconsin Public Health Association, connecting the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus with public health professionals around the state. At the time, she was also a member of the Community Connections Team of the Marshfield Clinic, which helps connect low-income patients with community resources that meet their needs.

“Volunteering and being civilly active shows you care about the health and well-being of your neighbors and the people who live in your community,” Katelyn said. “My goal in life is not to change the entire world, but to change the world for one person.”

2018 Recipient

Lincoln High School senior Selena Hansen was the first recipient of the WIPP’s Young Adult Civic Engagement Award.

Hansen volunteered hundreds of hours for her school and community throughout her high school years. Her efforts included working with a special needs Girl Scout Troop and designing an event to help the girls grow as strong and independent community members.

Hansen was active with the tobacco awareness group FACT and has made presentations to the Portage County Department of Health and Human Services.

She was involved with the National Honor Society, Lincoln High School jazz band, Incourage Community Foundation, McMillan Memorial Library, and the United Way’s Project Fresh Start and Stuff the Desk.