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Palmer Scholarship

The Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarship

Professor Chris Palmer, Director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, and his wife Gail Shearer have established a $50,000 endowment at American University. The scholarship honors Chris's parents, Mavis and Sidney John Palmer.

Merit scholarships will be awarded annually, to an outstanding graduate student in SOC with an interest in environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking. Scholarship recipients will be selected by a faculty committee. Committee members will review and evaluate a one-page essay from applicants, detailing the student's aspirations and interest in the field of environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking. Based on this information, the committee will select a recipient. Applicants should send their resume and a one-page essay (as described above) to Professor Chris Palmer ( by July 1.

Apply for Scholarship | Download Application Form | Past Recipients

2016-17 Center for Environmental Filmmaking Scholars

L to R: Ashley Holmes, Megan King, Chris Palmer, Kent Wagner, Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath,

Scholarship Recipients

This year’s recipients of the Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarships are Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath, Ashley Holmes, Megan King, and Kent Wagner. All of these award winners are about to begin their second year of graduate studies here at SOC.

The scholarship was set up in 2013 by Professor Chris Palmer and his wife, Gail Shearer, to honor Chris's parents by establishing an endowment to support the scholarship. Income from the fund is awarded annually, based on merit, to outstanding SOC graduate students with an interest in environmental and wildlife filmmaking.

Ashley Holmes is a filmmaker focused on the environment, animal behavior, and conservation. She has worked on video projects for the Humane Society, the Izaak Walton League of America, and is currently interning at the Environmental Investigation Agency in DC. She has also started work on her thesis film that focuses on the impact of grey seals in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She hopes to one day educate the next generation of conservationists through film. 

Megan King grew up hiking and skiing in beautiful Colorado, which instilled in her a love and respect for the natural world. Her passion is to tell stories of people, the environments in which they live and how they interact. Megan worked at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, DC where she worked on Festival programming as well as fundraising. Megan has also worked for Open Space and Mountain Parks in Boulder, CO to highlight the incredible volunteers that participate in their Raptor Monitoring program.

Kent Wagner is a photographer, audio producer, and filmmaker concentrating on science, natural history, and environmental topics. He has recently completed projects for the National Park Service, NASA, and the USGS. He is currently working on a film, co-sponsored by the Center for Environmental Filmmaking and the Pulitzer Center for International Reporting, which examines the deforestation of Borneo and its effects on climate change.

Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath has edited and worked on documentaries that focus on the oil industry, youth in Honduras, a private investigator working with death row cases, and helping professionals who suffer compassion fatigue. Elizabeth is pursuing a concentration in Environmental and Wildlife filmmaking because she believes that we can make better decisions about conserving and preserving natural spaces when we understand the impact of our human footprint. She is currently working on a short film that focuses on bird conservation.


Previous Winners:

2015: Shayna Muller and Sam Sheline

2014: Vanina Harel, Marilyn Stone, Jamey Warner, and Nick Zachar

2013: Sarah Gulick and Erin Finicane

The History of Mavis and Sidney John Palmer

SOC Palmer Scholarship Parents

Chris Palmer's parents at Buckingham Palace in 1973 where Chris’s father received a high award from the Queen.

written by Chris Palmer and Gail Shearer
My parents had challenging childhoods, yet they transcended those deprivations and became very successful.
My father, whose father died when he was six, went from being an impoverished child of “working class” parents in Pembroke, Wales, to one of the most powerful men at the top of the British Admiralty. This was no easy accomplishment, especially in such a class-ridden society. He served as head of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, which designs and builds all the warships and submarines for the Royal Navy.
When our three daughters were growing up, my father (their grandfather) told them inspiring stories of his remarkable service in WWII. He used his engineering skills to head a team that solved numerous ship and submarine-related challenges.
My mother was a young woman during WWII and put her brilliant skill at languages to support the war effort. She also served as a volunteer fire warden during bombing raids in Plymouth on the south coast.
She raised four small boys, including my twin brother and me, during post-war rationing in England without today’s modern conveniences. She became a central part of my father’s work community, welcoming with open arms a series of American naval families who were posted to Bath, England, where we lived. Though naturally shy, she learned how to overcome that and became a deeply loved hostess and friend to scores of visiting families.
My parents instilled in me the same values we hold dear at AU—integrity, service, courage, self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, generosity, hard work, creativity, and tenacity.