Doris and Milton Weller

Doris and Milton Weller

Milton W. Weller lived in urban St. Louis Missouri and, as a young man, had a strong interest in nature and wildlife. He was fortunate to meet Morton A. Mitchell, a high school teacher who took an interest in Milton and invited him and his friends on field trips to nurture their outdoor interests. Their time together developed into a life long friendship.

During weekend and summer travels Mr. Mitchell took Milton to visit bat caves and oxbow lakes and other sites along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to experience wildlife in their habitats. As they traveled, Mr. Mitchell would talk about the importance of the environment and how critical specific ecological conditions are in determining the success of wildlife. These lessons broadened Milton’s interests and greatly affected his perspective about the birds he loved and the way he approached his passion for wildlife.

Milton’s family lacked the financial resources to allow him to begin college. Beyond his mentorship, Mr. Mitchell assisted in Milton’s future success by providing a loan that allowed him to begin a college career. With the help of future scholarships based on his success in school Milton was able to earn a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D at the University of Missouri. During his academic years, and later in his professional career Milton was further mentored by conservation teachers of the era such as H. Albert Hochbaum, William H. Elder, Thomas S. Baskett, Paul Errington and other professionals in ornithology and the mutual sciences. All these influences helped Milton focus his studies and later his professional research on the natural systems needed by wildlife.

He went on to become a professor at Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota and Texas A&M. During this time he became the mentor to 52 graduate students while Milton received such honors as the Gulf Conservation Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Wetland Scientists, and the prestigious Aldo Leopold Award from the Wildlife Society. Mr. Mitchell’s financial support started Dr. Weller on the road to a highly successful career.

This scholarship is available because Dr. Milton Weller’s family wants to follow Mr. Mitchell’s example and provide funds to pay forward financial assistance to students with the same passion for wildlife, conservation, and ecology.

While Dr. Weller repaid Mr. Mitchell, no requirement for repayment exists with this scholarship, but a future voluntary donation to the Morton A. Mitchell Scholarship Fund through the St. Louis Community Foundation would keep alive Mr. Mitchell’s spirit while making funding available for yet more students of ecology.