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Virginia Student Wins National Scholarship

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Ben Coates, this year's recipient of the NWTF's national scholarship, proudly displays his winning checks.
Photo credit: Rustburg High School journalism class
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EDGEFIELD, S.C. — On any given weekend, Ben Coates can be found serving meals to the needy or studying for his classes. Or he could be found hunting wild turkeys or planting food plots for wildlife management.

Though Coates shares many similarities with other high school seniors, his talents and accomplishments recently made him stand out among his peers.

For his hard work and dedication in the classroom, his community and the conservation field, Coates has earned NWTF's 2011 national scholarship, sponsored by Mossy Oak.

"Hunting has helped me to grow into a young man who continues to learn about the greatness of God's creation," said Coates. "My family and I strive to provide habitats that will nurture the growth and development of all game species. I am dedicated to providing an investment for future generations to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do."

Coates, of Concord, Va., attends Rustburg High School. He was selected from a group of 44 state scholarship recipients to be named the national winner. The combination of NWTF local, state and national funds awarded to Coates totaled $13,000.

To help the next generation of conservation leaders pursue their education, the NWTF makes more than $500,000 in scholarships available to high school seniors each year. NWTF chapters have awarded more than $3.3 million in scholarship money to deserving high school students across the country since 1999.

"The future conservation work of outstanding students like Ben ensures we can continue to enjoy the outdoors and the longstanding traditions we hold dear," said Christine Rolka, NWTF director of education. "We are pleased to support Ben as he furthers his education and look forward to hearing about his many successes."

An exceptional performer in academics, Coates has served on his student council and been a member of the National Honor Society and the National FFA Organization. He also has earned the coveted Boy Scout of America (BSA) Eagle Scout rank and membership in BSA's Order of the Arrow.

Coates' dedication to community service is evident through his hours spent delivering firewood to families in need of heating assistance, helping with roadside cleanup programs, participating in community food drives and cleaning yards for elderly residents. He even raises money to help provide food for two children in Third World countries.

Coates received the surprise announcement that he won the NWTF national scholarship while at his school's year-end awards ceremony.

"When I saw that big check with my name on it, I was blown away," Coates said. "I have a strong desire to help maintain land through conservation and provide years of future outdoor enjoyment for generations to come. This scholarship is another step toward having a career that will ultimately help me dedicate my time to achieving those goals."

Coates' strong work ethic helped him maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 4.25 for all of his classes throughout his high school career. He plans to begin his studies at Central Virginia Community College and then transfer to Virginia Tech to pursue a major in veterinary medicine and a minor in wildlife biology and conservation.

Coates and his family also will receive a trip to the 2012 NWTF National Convention and Sport Show, Feb. 9-12, in Nashville, Tenn., where he will be recognized for his achievement.

For more information on the NWTF scholarship program, call (800) THE-NWTF, email or visit




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