John Fetcher Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District Scholarship

Rafters on the Yampa River
Applications are now being accepted for the 2021-2022 John Fetcher Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District Scholarship.

The Colorado Water Center partners in supporting the John Fetcher Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District Scholarship each academic year.

The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District provides up to two $2,000 one-year scholarships for full-time university student(s) working on a water-related degree program, including hydropower-related fields. The Colorado Water Center administers the scholarship. The scholarship provides financial assistance for one year to a committed and talented student who is pursuing a water-related career in any major at a public university within the state of Colorado. Preference will be given to juniors, seniors, or master’s candidates (with at least one year of studies remaining) in a water-related major, and to residents or former residents of Northwest Colorado or students working on water research in Northwest Colorado.

For questions related to eligibility, please contact Nancy Grice at (970) 491-6308 or


Preference will be given to students with one or more of the following attributes: are residents or former residents of Northwest Colorado, desire a career related to water resources, have shown academic interest in the Yampa River or Colorado River Basin. All majors are eligible.

The recipient must be a full-time student enrolled in a water-related major at a public university within the state of Colorado, financial need may be considered, and preference is given to students from Northwest Colorado. The scholarship provides $1,000 support for the 2021 Fall term and $1,000 for the 2022 Spring term.

Application Deadline:

Midnight, May 18, 2021

2020 – 2021 Award Recipients

Sierra Mitchell, Graduate Student, Environmental Science Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Sierra Mitchell

Throughout her undergraduate education at Colorado Mesa University, Sierra Mitchell became heavily involved in water. As a research assistant at the Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center, she gained experience in the science and policy of the Colorado River Basin.

Sierra contributed to a project designing scrubbers to remove selenium from irrigation water before it enters the river’s ecosystem which she presented at the Upper Colorado River Basin Forum in November 2019. Working with engineering professors, Sierra analyzed snowpack on the Colorado National Monument and the Grand Mesa. Their research seeks to quantify the impacts of aridification and other environmental changes in the region. Sierra will begin her graduate studies at the Colorado School of Mines this fall.

Sierra plans to become a hydrologist for a state or federal government agency. She explains in her application “the further I was into my degree the more I realized how intertwined policy and the environment really are.” She sees how valuable her combined expertise in science and policy will be for her future career.

Tanya Petach

Tanya Petach describes her interest in water, “Colorado water management is awash with creative ideas, novel implementation, and bold decision making”, and it is clear how her work and career path fits right in. Currently, in her graduate research, she investigates the impact management decisions have on water quality in time and space. She uses 200 million data points from across Colorado to assess which management decisions are associated with the greatest change in water quality over a 40-year period. She is comparing streams with both beneficial and detrimental changes.

Looking to the future, Tanya considers the conditions of our water resources that the next generation will face. She understands the importance of educating the youth to achieve sustainable solutions. During the summers, Tanya works with the Headwaters Alliance running a week-long acid mine drainage camp for elementary-age children, and she teaches fourth-graders by conducting hands-on water labs.

Tanya is continuously learning and striving to better understand the complex system of water in Colorado. Networking at local events such as workshops at the Getches-Wilkinson Center at CU Boulder and attending stakeholder watershed meetings gives Tanya valuable experience to further her understanding of how engineering connects with the larger picture of Colorado water management.

Tanya Petach, Doctoral Student, Environmental Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder and Graduate Research Fellow, National Science Foundation