Ogden Honors College junior named 2024 Udall Scholar

May 10, 2024

The LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College is proud to announce that Peter Kelly has been named a 2024 Udall Scholar by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. The Baton Rouge native was one of 55 students selected from a pool of 406 candidates. Of the 55 students selected, Peter is the only scholar from Louisiana. An 18-member independent review committee selected this year’s group of Udall Scholars on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, Tribal public policy, or Native health care; leadership potential; record of public service; and academic achievement.

Kelly, an Ogden Honors College student majoring in geography and philosophy, is a Louisiana Service and Leadership (LASAL) Scholar and Stamps Scholar.

Kelly hopes to pursue a career of societal and environmental service by developing sustainable trail infrastructure that stimulates environmental conservation, improves non-motorized transportation networks, enhances quality of life through outdoor recreation, and includes historically underserved communities. 

Kelly envisions himself leading a national effort that recognizes the value of a strong outdoor trail infrastructure. “Walking, biking, and hiking trails in urban and natural settings offer a wide array of benefits that address urgent social and environmental concerns. Trails provide alternative transportation pathways, which decrease traffic congestion and related greenhouse gas emissions while increasing pedestrian safety. They also provide valuable access to community services, employment opportunities, and exercise for those without vehicles. Outdoor recreation is a popular social and community activity, and it is associated with increased mental health. Trails simultaneously enhance conservation efforts by growing awareness of natural areas and increasing interest in environmental protection.”

LSU has given Kelly the opportunity to pursue this career and continue thinking and researching the importance of outdoorsmanship and sustainability. “In my undergraduate geography classes I frequently study sustainable development, which has encouraged me to consider the broad environmental and social implications of trail creation. I also study environmental thought in my philosophy classes, including deep ecology, environmental justice, and indigenous philosophy theories,” Kelly states.

Kelly is responsible for growing an outdoor community at LSU by organizing trips to places like Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest and the Buffalo River in Arkansas. He makes this possible by fundraising and cultivating a sense of appreciation for nature within his fellow students.

As a student researcher, Kelly has been working under Dr. Michael Pasquier to address Louisiana’s continual loss of wetlands due to industrial exploitation and climate change. Kelly is confident that his analysis and critique of environmental policies will help conserve Louisiana’s natural wetlands.

When asked about his future as a Udall Scholar, Kelly responded, “I applied for the Udall Scholarship to showcase the work I’ve done promoting sustainable outdoor recreation and environmental policy in Louisiana. I owe a lot to the LSU Honors College, especially the LASAL curriculum, for having received this award. I look forward to meeting other students from around the country who are passionate about serving the environment and learning from their examples. I also hope to use this recognition to more effectively advocate for the environment, both in Louisiana and elsewhere.”