Alumni Awards

Nearly 4,000 Nelson Institute alumni work in government, business, and nonprofit organizations, applying their knowledge and skills to make the world a better and more sustainable place. Many also volunteer with environmental or humanitarian causes, extending the community-based philosophy that is cultivated within the institute. Each year, the Nelson Institute shines a spotlight on alumni who are making a difference in the world.

Nomination and Selection Process

The 2021 Alumni Awards nomination process is now open.

Nominations are due by Monday, May 31.

Award winners are selected by members of the Nelson Institute Alumni Awards Committee and approved by the Nelson Institute Senior Leadership Team. Awardees are notified of their selection in early July.

Awards are presented at the Nelson Institute’s annual Rendezvous on the Terrace gathering for alumni and friends.

Award Process

Awards are presented at the Nelson Institute’s annual Rendezvous on the Terrace gathering for alumni and friends. The 2021 Rendezvous on the Terrace will be held Friday, September 17, 2021. More details coming soon.

Rising Star Alumni Award

The Nelson Institute Rising Star Alumni Award recognizes initiative as well as accomplishments of alumni who are making a significant difference in the world soon after graduation and who have attained a notable degree of success or impact through their professional accomplishments and/or community service.

  • Nominees must have earned an undergraduate major or certificate or a graduate degree or certificate from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
  • Nominees must be under 35 years of age OR have received their degree/certificate less than 10 years ago.
  • Special consideration will be given to those who have demonstrated significant initiative by starting innovative service or research projects, businesses, or other original enterprises.
  • All candidates will be considered regardless of race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or religion.
  • Nominations may be made by any students, alumni, friends, and current or emeritus faculty or staff of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Self-nominations are accepted, but require a letter of recommendation in addition to the nomination form.

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Nelson Institute Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have attained a notable degree of long-term success or impact through their professional accomplishments and/or community service.

  • Nominees must have earned an undergraduate major or certificate or graduate degree or certificate from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
  • Nominees must be over the age of 35 OR have received their degree/certificate more than 10 years ago.
  • Special consideration will be given to those who have demonstrated significant initiative by starting innovative service or research projects, businesses, or other original enterprises.
  • All candidates will be considered regardless of race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or religion.
  • Nominations may be made by any students, alumni, friends, and current or emeritus faculty or staff of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Self-nominations are accepted, but require a letter of recommendation in addition to the nomination form.

Please email Emily Reynolds, assistant director for community engagement and alumni relations, with questions at alumni@nelson.wisc.edu.