Nevada City, CA – The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) proudly announces Vanessa Richards as the 2022 Environmentalist of the Year Scholarship awardee. Each spring, SYRCL offers a $4,000 scholarship to a graduating high school senior who plans to pursue a degree in the environmental field.

On Thursday, May 12, SYRCL hosted an Award Reception to honor this year’s recipient, Vanessa Richards, a graduating senior from Ghidotti Early College High School. Vanessa has been actively involved in the Nevada County Sunrise Movement, co-founded her schools’ Environmental Club, and has volunteered with SYRCL, both during our Yuba River Cleanup, as well as working with the Watershed Science department. Vanessa will attend UCLA in the fall to pursue a degree in Biology.

Ghidotti Early College High School Principal Noah Levinson, SYRCL’s Environmentalist of the Year Scholarship awardee Vanessa Richards, and Vanessa’s guardian Saskia Dummett

Growing up in Grass Valley, Vanessa spent her time keeping up with her older sister as they traversed through chest-high water over slick, algae-covered rocks trying not to fall in. This was the beginning of her life-long connection to the environment and her relationship to nature has driven her to appreciate, respect, and protect our natural world. In her free time, you can find Vanessa continuing to cultivate this connection through painting, backpacking, camping, and impromptu Yuba River trips. Her connection and curiosity for the environment inspires her passion for biology and environmental activism.

 “We are thrilled to award our scholarship to Vanessa. I was thoroughly impressed by her academic achievements along with her dedication to the protection of our environment, said Monique Streit, SYRCL’s River Education Manager. “I am confident she will continue to be a committed advocate for environmental stewardship and justice and will demonstrate excellence wherever her path takes her.”

SYRCL is committed to ensuring their scholarship recipients have the support needed for financial stability and day-to-day necessities while pursuing higher education. The Environmentalist of the Year Scholarship helps withtextbooks, supplies, and other expenses, thus allowing students time to pursue opportunities that align with their passions.

If you are interested in supporting the Environmentalist of the Year scholarship, visit to donate.

About SYRCL: The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL, pronounced “circle”), based in Nevada City, CA, is the leading voice for the protection and restoration of the Yuba River watershed. Founded in 1983 through a rural, grassroots campaign to defend the South Yuba River from proposed hydropower dams, SYRCL has developed into a vibrant community organization with over 3,500 members and volunteers. See: