Teenager Michael Loughhead has been awarded the first $30,000 Salt Creek Scholarship.
The former Warrnambool College student was announced the inaugural winner at a ceremony at the Woorndoo wind farm earlier this month.
The scholarship is awarded to one student from Victoria’s Western District each year to assist in the cost of relocation and away-from-home accommodation associated with higher education.
Scholarship winners are selected on the basis of personal qualities and demonstrated leadership as well as academic ability.
Michael Loughhead is currently studying a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at Deakin University in Geelong.
The 19 year-old, who was awarded Dux of specialist mathematics in his final year of school, said the funding has eased stresses associated with the costs of living away from home.
"I don't physically see the money it goes directly toward my rent associated with living on campus," he said.
"It's such a massive cost living away from home for the first time and studying.
"This is really helpful. It's such a great initiative and I'm humbled to have been chosen."
Tilt Renewables, who own and run the Salt Creek wind farm, have committed to the scholarship for the next 25 years.
Asset Manager Barend van der Poll said he hoped the funds would help make a positive difference for both Michael and future recipients.
"Michael struck the jury as a very positive person and eager to make the most of any situation," Mr van der Poll said.
"It is a testament to him that he has taken advantage of many opportunities to better himself and gain such a broad range of life experiences and all the while supporting those less fortunate than him.
"Michael is very empathetic, humble and kind – often traits that are overlooked and undervalued in today’s society.
"He has a happy disposition together with a drive to make a difference. His passion for renewable energy and personal ambition will stand him in good stead to make a real impact on our environment."
The Salt Creek Scholarship is open to any local first-time tertiary course applicants who have completed high school within the last five years.
Peter Coy, who owns the land the wind farms are located on, is contributing $15,000 toward the scholarship. This is equivalent to the rental he receives from one of the 15 turbines he hosts on his farm for the Salt Creek Wind Farm.
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