For almost a month, 13 young representatives from the Morris K. Udall Foundation have been traveling the country in a biodiesel-fueled bus, promoting public service. Today they stopped in Oklahoma, where they participated in a Native American health care symposium hosted by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
Riding in a green-certified biodiesel motor coach, the college students and recent graduates are highlighting innovative solutions to America’s pressing environmental and Native American issues on an 8,600-mile tour that will visit 26 cities, six Native American communities and six national parks in seven weeks. The bus riders, aged 21 to 26, are recipients of Morris K. Udall Scholarships, named for the late Arizona congressman and advocate of environmentalism and the interests of Native Americans.
At OMRF, the Udall scholars participated in a symposium devoted to Native American health issues. The event, which featured physicians from OMRF and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, included sessions on obesity and diabetes, diseases of aging, rheumatic diseases and clinical trials. They were welcomed by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
“We tried to give our guests a flavor of the many different ways that scientists and physicians in Oklahoma are working to improve health care for Native communities,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott. In December, the U.S. Senate confirmed Prescott to serve on the foundation’s board of trustees; his term runs through 2011.
During the tour, the scholars are, whenever possible, participating in local public service projects planned and implemented by alumni of the Udall Foundation’s scholarship, fellowship and internship programs. Immediately prior to arriving in Oklahoma, they replanted trees in New Orleans. As they head west, they will assist in trail maintenance and seed harvesting in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and campground development on the Grand Ronde Reservation in Oregon before concluding their journey in Tucson, Ariz., on Aug. 4.
Dubbed the Udall Legacy Tour, the trip is sponsored by the Udall Foundation, which is supported by income from a trust fund in the U.S. Treasury. The foundation is committed to educating a new generation of Americans to preserve and protect their national heritage through studies in the environment, Native American health and tribal policy.
For more information on the Udall Foundation and the Legacy Tour, please visit www.udall.gov.
Chartered in 1946, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. OMRF’s scientists, who include a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, hold more than 500 U.S. and international patents.