When the National Recycling Coalition recently awarded three $1,500 scholarships to sustainability-minded college students, the group carried on a tradition that’s now two decades in the making.

The first NRC scholarship was awarded in 1993 after NRC leader Murray Fox pushed the group to set up a system to support future industry decision makers. While scholarships were not awarded one year when the NRC experienced financial and leadership turmoil, the idea has persevered and Fox’s original vision has played out.

“Murray had no formal education, but he built several successful recycling companies,” said Fox’s longtime friend Terry Guerin at a ceremony last month to honor this year’s scholarship winners in Louisville, Kentucky (Fox himself could not attend due to health issues). “He endowed the fund because he wanted to make the path to success a little easier for others than it had been for him. He by himself set up the original funds.”

The scholarship fund, which has been lifted by other donations, sits in an investment account that rises and falls based on market conditions, but the NRC is not permitted to touch the principal. The money has consistently allowed for two or three $1,500 scholarships annually.

This year the financial awards went to three students in the Louisville area: Angie Carlson and Laura Krauser, both of the University of Louisville, and Jane Goecke from Jefferson Community and Technical College.

Carlson, a first year graduate student studying bioethics and medical humanities, has helped to create and implement a successful composting program on the UL campus. Krauser is a leader in a student group at the university called Group Recycling and Sustainable Solutions and has helped push a number of recycling-awareness events. Goecke is working on publishing a study in which she and a fellow student observed, documented and photographed the accumulation of litter in the Markland Dam of the Ohio River.

Goecke said she will be looking to continue her education after finishing her current associate degree program. “This scholarship gives me some more options as I look at where I want to pursue my bachelors,” she said, noting that her goal is to continue to help municipalities better understand their impact on the environment around them. “I’m hoping that with my knowledge I can help educate the community on what’s happening to this debris” that ends up in sensitive areas.

During his State of the NRC address during the group’s yearly members meeting, Mark Lichtenstein, the current NRC president, said he hoped to create a network to better connect all of the group’s past scholarship winners. Krauser said that plan could help her and others in her position. “Networking in general is intimidating,” said the Louisville sophomore. “To have a coalition of like-minded people to turn to might make it a little easier.”