Jim Anderson is being honored with a scholarship in his name. photo provided
Jim Anderson is being honored with a scholarship in his name. photo provided
Naturalist Jim Anderson is well-known to readers of The Nugget for his columns over the past 20 years in which he has shared his vast knowledge of the flora and fauna of the Central Oregon region in layman’s terms — accompanied by a sprinkling of old-fashioned humor. 

Anderson, who is 93, and his wife Sue, recently moved out of the area to be closer to family in the Willamette Valley, but his impact and educational influence will be remembered for years to come thanks to a scholarship established in his honor by a Sisters couple, Karen Lord and John Klement. 

After years of reading Anderson’s columns, Lord and Klement finally met him after finding an unidentifiable bone while on a hike along the rim of Whychus Creek. Anderson, the go-to guy for all such queries in Sisters Country, was also stumped, but committed to finding out. Eventually, it was determined the fragment came from a young fawn.

Lord, who is a board member for Sisters Graduate Resource Organization (GRO), which manages the establishment and distribution of scholarships for Sisters High School graduates, had been mulling over the idea of starting a scholarship herself. After her encounter with the Andersons — and due to her and her husband’s own love of the natural world — the couple decided to fund a scholarship focused on environmental science, while honoring a man who had spent his life immersed professionally and personally in the natural world. 

Lord also had personal experience with the boost scholarships can give to young people. 

“I went to college as a single mother, and scholarships were the only way I was able to complete my degree,” said Lord. “The financial help was critical; so was the encouragement of being chosen for an award.

“John and I are both outdoors people, and have camped and hiked all over Oregon. We both agreed we wanted the scholarship to be environmental science based. We both felt moved to honor the legacy and curiosity of this man who has had such a remarkable impact on our understanding of Central Oregon ecology. His eagerness to share his knowledge and inspire others to pay attention to the natural world inspires us.” 

In its first year, the scholarship will be $2,000, but since creating the award, Lord began thinking that others might want to contribute to the fund and make it an endowment so that it will be available for many years to come. 

“John and I are willing to match the first $5,000 in additional contributions made by others to this scholarship to get the ball rolling,” she said. 

The scholarship will be awarded to a full-time student intending to major in environmental science, biology, botany, earth science, or another related field, according to Lord. 

It is fitting that the scholarship will aid students at Sisters High School, as Anderson spent many hours volunteering with Rima Givot’s biology classes over the years as a guest speaker and helper when the classes conducted field studies, including in the Trout Creek Conservation Area managed by the school district. 

“Jim helped bring the natural world alive for my students,” said Givot. “His heartfelt stories helped students connect to science personally and he has a way of inspiring both laughter and thought as he shared his practical knowledge of our native landscape.” 

Sisters GRO now manages over 60 different scholarships, all locally based, and distributed over $250,000 to the class of 2020. The organization strives to support all Sisters High School graduates in post-high-school education including vocational/trade schools, community college, four-year college, and other training. 

According to GRO board chair Tim Ross, the best way to contribute is by mail to Sisters GRO, PO Box 1546, Sisters, OR 97759, or by visiting www.SistersGro.org and selecting the “Donate Now” option. Ross noted that since PayPal charges a 2.2 percent fee for electronic contributions donors should add that into their total donation.

For more information about donating to GRO or starting a scholarship with GRO (a 501(c)3 nonprofit), email Laura Kloss, program director, at laura.kloss@sistersgro.org.