Student Prizes & Awards

2023 Student Prizes and Awards for PITE and SEAS Students

Purpose: Two sets of cash prizes and awards are available this year. They promote creative work and scholarship that relates to the values and mission of the Matthaei-Nichols. They are not intended to be student stipends (in lieu of salary.)  Learn about our mission here.

Eligibility: Students must be enrolled in PITE (Program in the Environment – for undergraduates) or SEAS (School for Environment and Sustainability – for graduate students.) Students who have concurrent majors/minors/degree candidacy with other units are eligible as long as one is PITE or SEAS. The work that merits a prize or award may be recent, current, and/or proposed for the near future. Preference is given to students who have not won previously. Candidates may apply directly or be nominated by other students, staff, or faculty.

About $12,000 will be distributed. In recent years most awards and prizes have been under $2,500 but this is not a preexisting cap.

The Nanette R. LaCross Prizes and the William D. Drake Prizes

The Nanette R. LaCross Prizes and the William D. Drake Prizes recognize “affiliation” of  PITE (Environ) undergraduate students or SEAS graduate students with the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum (MBGNA). This “affiliation” can be past work, current engagement, or proposed activity relevant to the MBGNA. 

  • The LaCross Prize honors the student(s) who best exemplifies the spirit of Nanette LaCross who as a lawyer worked tirelessly for women’s rights, animal welfare, and many other environmental concerns. 
  • The Drake Prize honors the student(s) who best exemplifies the spirit of William Drake who as a professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment was dedicated to a variety of environmental concerns at both global and local scales. 

Activities encompass regular volunteering, conducting research or artistic endeavors related to the properties, or participating as student employees at the MBGNA. Examples have included botanical, zoological, or ecological studies; environmental stewardship projects; green technologies and design related to the built environment; environmental art installations; gardening with children; local food production and sustainable agricultural systems.

  • Proposed activities that will be completed before the end of summer following your graduation are appropriate, as long as there is meaningful “affiliation” with MBGNA. 

To apply for these prizes you must submit a 1-2 page statement (total) with each element below:

  1. Describe your past, current, or proposed new affiliation activity; 
  2. Articulate how it has or will contribute to your personal and career goals;
  3. List your contact information, your student ID number, and the names and contact information of three references.
  4. In addition, but not in the 2 page limit, include a copy of your resume.

To nominate someone, please submit a short one-paragraph statement about the person you’d like to nominate (include their name and academic unit) highlighting their connection to Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum and email to Dr. David Michener at Please submit nominations in time for the candidate to meet the application deadline (below.)

Prizes and financial aid:  Prizes may impact financial aid agreements and your tax reporting. Since this is student-specific, please consult UM Financial Aid and your advisors. 

Submission Information: 
  1. To submit an application, merge all parts (a-d) into one (1) pdf with your name and the specific prize name embedded in the pdf name (as Keni Tlalah Drake) and email to
  2. The deadline for applications is 5:00 pm, Friday, February 17th, 2023.
    Note: applications that are not one (1) pdf will not be reviewed.
Students conducting research at Matthaei