News & Resources


2017 Dave Mahan Fellowship - JD Golden and Rachel Pigden

Jun 16, 2017

In this year of 2017, the Au Sable Institute celebrates the inauguration of the David C. Mahan Fellowship, an award commemorating the life and legacy of former Associate Executive Director Dr. Dave Mahan. Known for his warmth, humor, and relational skills that made hundreds of friends for the Institute over his 30 years of service, Dave’s namesake Fellowship is awarded to a student of exemplary academic record who has shown ability to accomplish goals in conservation through collaborative, relational effort with others. Au Sable, inaugurates this outstanding new award with two recipients, Joseph (JD) Golden of Cornerstone University (Michigan) and Rachel Pigden of Redeemer University College (Ontario).

This summer, JD Golden will be studying Land Resources, Watersheds in Global Development and Environmental Applications in Geographic Information Systems. A senior at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan JD is pursuing an Environmental Biology degree with a concentration in Water Resources and Management Techniques and hopes to spend his life working on the water. During this past spring semester, JD worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Plainwell Operations Center as a Fisheries Technician Intern. He obtained this position through establishing contact and building relationships with MDNR staff, through this experience he has begun to build his professional network and gained valuable skills for his career. Dr. Rob Keys of Cornerstone University, JD’s academic advisor, noted that, while starting his Senior Research Project, “JD and his partner are studying the effects of stream flow on unmonitored streams in our [Grand Rapids] area. In order for this project to move forward, JD had to develop partnerships with the County Park Division, local landowners, and the DEQ. He did this with grace and kindness. These relationships allowed the project to move forward with little hindrance and it continues to run smoothly because of the work he accomplished. As a friend of Dave [Mahan]’s over the years, this Fellowship recognizing his work is a fabulous legacy to his time at Au Sable. The pleasure of nominating JD for this award is an honor because I see much of Dave in JD.”

Rachel Pigden will be studying Lake Ecology and Restoration Ecology at the Great Lakes Campus this summer as she prepares to enter her senior year of study at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario. Rachel began her academic career at the University of Guelph (Ontario) where she completed three semesters before transferring to Redeemer. At Redeemer, Rachel quickly became prominent in creation care on her campus, rising to the position of co-leader of SEEDS the Redeemer environmental club. Through SEEDS, Rachel organized road clean-up initiatives and restarted the on-campus composting program which had been inoperative for a number of years. Her work required collaboration with campus maintenance, the Redeemer Student Senate and the student body. “She has demonstrated superior academic ability,” explained Dr. Darren Brouwer of Redeemer University College, “she has a deep commitment to creation care, and has a wonderful, warm, and generous personality.” Prior to her studies at Redeemer, Rachel completed a two-month live-in internship at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Rachel explains, “Myself and another intern worked together to care for the animals in the center’s custody, and worked with various other volunteers and staff. At this placement, I gained an appreciation for how important it is to learn from the experience of others, as well as how to divide tasks and share.” Rachel plans to pursue a career in ecological restoration and is spurred on by a desire to work with and learn from others in these future endeavors.

Congratulations JD and Rachel! Your hard work and commitment to building strong collaborations and professional relationships carries on the legacy of Dr. Dave Mahan and earns you the title of 2017 Dave Mahan Fellows! We are honored to have you studying with us this summer!