In 2018, Cantor Wendy Shermet was awarded a monetary gift from the Livingston Foundation Fund in recognition of her service to the teens in her care as part of the 11th and 12th Grade Israel Trip and for being a leading light in the Omaha Jewish community for 18 years.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about how I want to use this lovely award, and having worked with so many teenagers over these years, I realized that not all of our kids are meant to go to college right away, or even at all. Kids really grow up during a gap year and I think it’s important for them to consider their choices and get some work experience before going to college,” said Cantor Shermet.

Together with her husband Len and son Sam, they created the Shermet-Burrell Environmental Gap Year Fund at Temple Israel. The purpose of this fund is to allocate scholarship money for a gap year either between high school and college, or a gap year during college, for students who wish to explore their interest in the Environmental Science fields before committing to a major.  The student will choose an organization with which to volunteer, and will not be geographically restricted. Such organizations include but are not necessarily limited to the following fields:

Climatologist, Ecologist, Entomologist, Hydrologist, Marine Biologist, Meteorologist, Microbiologist, Molecular Biologist, Oceanographer, Paleontologist, Seismologist, Wildlife Biologist, Zoologist, Large Animal Veterinarian, Conservation Biology and Fisheries Science.

“Let us approach tikkun olam literally and actually start working toward repairing the world. No matter what our individual politics are, we all live on this one Earth together. Our home is sick. If you walked into your house and there was mold, you would do something about it. And that’s how we need to view our planet.”

In addition to the gift from the Livingston Foundation Fund, Cantor Shermet has utilized monies from both her Temple Israel Discretionary Fund and personal family savings. Darlynn and Tom Fellman and Louri Sullivan and their families have also graciously donated. Since the fund’s announcement, additional Temple Israel members have also begun to generously donate.

Students will apply for the scholarship and depending upon the number of applicants per calendar year, Cantor Shermet anticipates awarding a one-time grant per student each year until the funds are depleted.