Both SWANA National and the Badger Chapter have scholarship programs in place to promote the organization’s strategic value of industry education. The Badger Chapter typically awards up to $6,000 in scholarships in the categories listed below.  An application for the Badger Chapter scholarship program serves as the application for the National program. The national application packet is available in approximately February of each year. See additional instructions below. 

The Badger Chapter also recognizes a Young Professional (YP) for his or her outstanding achievements in the solid waste industry.  Nominations are accepted until the beginning of February and the recipient is announced at the Wisconsin Integrated Resource Management Conference (WIRMC).

Scholarship Categories
  • Category I – Students entering college who are sponsored by a SWANA member (son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter of a SWANA Member, in good standing at the time of the selection and the award)

  • Category II – College/university students pursuing a degree in a field related to solid waste management.

  • Category III (Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Award) – Full-time students entering or in graduate studies in a field related to solid waste management.

Special Award for Badger Chapter

Brenda Lee Quinnell Rising Leader Scholarship:
Category I, II, or III students who demonstrate leadership, commitment, and passion. The recipient of this award will be forwarded for National award consideration.

In August 2018 the solid waste and recycling
community lost one of its most devoted members.
Brenda Quinnell, director of the Adams County Solid
Waste Department,  served  for  over  10  years  as
the  Wisconsin  Badger  Chapter’s administrative
assistant.  During her years of service Brenda was 
much more than an “assistant”, she was a leader.  
Brenda kept chapter presidents and monthly 
meetings on task, filed annual financial reports,
organized in person meetings, and   played a major role in WIRM conference planning.   Meleesa Johnson, Director of the Marathon County Solid Waste Department, put it best when she said, “Brenda was the glue that held [the chapter] together.”

Beyond her dedication to the chapter, Brenda was a welcoming presence.  In a forum like SWANA, where many of the meetings and communications are held over the phone or via email, it can be difficult to get to know someone.  That was not so with Brenda who's   warm   voice   and   kind   nature   traveled   through   the   phone   and   email   waves   with   each communication. Brenda guided new members through the committee structure and helped promote and organize young professional events.  She was a true mentor and always willing to share her knowledge and experience.

For  these  reasons,  and  many  more,  the Wisconsin Badger  Chapter  is proud  to  offer  the Brenda  Lee Quinnell Rising Leader Scholarship.  

Each year, one scholarship will be awarded to an 
individual who demonstrates the following characteristics or actions through their application and essay(s):

- Searches for extra opportunities in school, community, work, or the solid waste and recycling 

- Inspires others through mentorship, integrity, creativity, and his or her ability to communicate

- Commitment, enthusiasm, passion, and accountability towards an organization or activity

The recipient of this award will be forwarded for consideration at the National Level.

SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAY QUESTION:  In 1,000 words or less, describe how you have demonstrated leadership and the qualities listed above and what being a good leader means to you.

Applicants are also encouraged to provide any documentation (photos, videos, awards, letters of references etc.) of ways in which he or she has demonstrated leadership, commitment, or enthusiasm towards an organization or activity.

Application Form and Submittal

The scholarship application form is generally released in February of each year and can be found on the SWANA National scholarship web page.  Previous year’s application form can be accessed prior to February for reference.

Please direct questions and submit completed application forms to:

George Shereda

Re: Badger Chapter Scholarship Program

phone: 608-250-0812


To be considered for either the National or State scholarship Category I programs, applicants must be the son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter of a member in good standing (sponsor) at the time of recommendations, selection, and award.  Sponsors must have been a member in good standing for a minimum of one year prior to submittal of scholarship application for consideration at the State level.

Category II and III scholarships are open to the son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter of SWANA members in good standing and to student members of SWANA.  Student members of SWANA need not have been a SWANA member for an entire year prior to submittal of his or her scholarship application; however, student involvement in SWANA is included as part of the "Other Activities" portion of the scoring criteria.

State Level Scholarships
  • The Badger Chapter typically awards up to three $2,000 scholarships in either Category I and/or Category II. The actual number of award amounts will be determined during the application review process.

  • Although the applicants may not be eligible for a National level scholarship, a currently enrolled full-time student entering his or her sophomore undergraduate year may be considered for State scholarship awards if exemplary commitment to the solid waste industry and/or SWANA is demonstrated. The Badger Chapter also includes student involvement in SWANA as part of the "Other Activities" portion of the scoring criteria for Category II scholarships (refer to scholarship application on the SWANA national webpage for more information.)

  • Deadline for Submittal of State Scholarship Applications to the Badger Chapter: May 1st of each year.

  • Announcements of State scholarship winners are made in late May of each year. 

National Level Scholarships
  • The National Level SWANA scholarship programs, which award up to $25,000 in scholarships, are open to applicants in Categories I, II, or III. 

  • A total of $20,000 is typically awarded in Categories I and II. The number and amounts of each scholarship will be determined by the National Scholarship Committee.

  • The Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Award, one scholarship of $5,000, will be awarded at the Category III level.  Although Category III scholarships are not typically awarded at the State level, Category III applications will be reviewed by the Badger Chapter and forwarded for National consideration if the application criteria are met. 

  • An application for the Badger Chapter scholarship program automatically serves as a student's application for the National scholarship program. 

  • Announcements of National scholarship winners are made in July of each year.

2017 YPs of the Year

This year, several impressive nominations were received for YP of the Year deserving of the recognition.  After much consideration, the Badger Chapter of SWANA would like to recognize both Phil Gearing and Erik Lietz as outstanding YPs for 2017.






Phillip Gearing, Senior Project Engineer

SCS Engineers 

Phil has worked for SCS Engineers in Madison, Wisconsin since 2008.  He earned his B.S. in Geological Engineering, Geology, and Geophysics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  Phil’s work includes landfill design and construction quality assurance as well as landfill gas extraction/venting system construction. His project experience also includes groundwater and air monitoring, storm water modeling, and various geotechnical-related analyses including slope stability and settlement.

One of the most notable accolades in Phil’s nominations, was in regards to his dedication to mentoring and teaching fellow young professionals.  As described in his nominations, “Young staff members form a quick and easy bond with Phil” and “Phil provides a key role in our engineering internship and cooperative student programs through the recruiting and mentoring of our student engineers. Phil also provides guidance as an alumnus to aspiring student engineers by giving presentations to geological engineering undergraduate student groups at UW-Madison.”

Phil has been an active member of the Wisconsin Badger Chapter of SWANA since September 2013, and is currently a board member and a WIRMC planning committee member.  He also chairs the membership committee and serves various other roles.  Phil took a lead role in planning this year’s WIRMC YP events, and the YP CQA panel discussion and webinar.  The Board wants to express their appreciation for his commitment.  Phil is a valued Chapter member an excellent addition the Board of Directors. 


Erik Lietz, Civil Engineer

Ayres Associates 

Erik works as a Civil Engineer at Ayres Associates in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where he works on landfill permitting, design, and operations.  His primary responsibilities include preparing technical specifications and analyses, cost estimates, and landfill permit documents.  A key role also includes facilitating client and public relations. 

A common theme throughout Erik’s several nominations was that he has a special ability to relate and communicate with others.  A nominator said it well, “One of his many strengths is his communication style, he is a better listener than a talker, he has the gift of conveying complicated engineering mater to those without similar backgrounds, and his is practical and economical in his approach to solving engineering problems.”

Erik is currently the vice president of the Badger Chapter, serves as the safety ambassador, and serves on several other committees.  He is a founding member of the Chapter’s YP group, often travelling several hours to attend events.  He took the lead organizing the 2016 YP WIRMC Event, collaborated on this year’s YP Panel discussion, and much more.

He has made the commitment to serve as the YP Representative on Landfill Technical Division at the national level and is leading coordination of the YP Events at SWANAPalooza. Erik is a dedicated member and a much appreciated contributor to SWANA and the solid waste industry. 

2017 YPs of the Year - Phil Gearing & Erik Lietz

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