a man and a woman standing next to each other
Natalie Stetz Tobias and husband, Bruce, recently established the Earth Conservation and Sustainability Scholarship through the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys. CONTRIBUTED

The Community Foundation of the Florida Keys has a new scholarship to offer in the Upper Keys. The Earth Conservation and Sustainability scholarship, made possible by the generosity of Natalie Stetz Tobias and her husband Bruce, will provide a new opportunity for Coral Shores High School students.

The scholarship will benefit Coral Shores students interested in earth conservation or sustainability, but not limited to those specific courses of study as some industries make an impact on the environment by other means — including lobbying, environmental law and research. 

“Nature and the environment are so important to both of us,” Natalie said. “We hear young people express how helpless they feel when it comes to tackling our earth’s largest issues and we’d like to encourage them to be part of the solution.”

Natalie admits she was not the best student academically during her time at Coral Shores High School. But she had talent, drive, determination and a strong work ethic — all traits she used after graduation to come into her own. After achieving professional success, Natalie and Bruce, now residents of Sedona, Arizona, decided to give future students a helping hand.

“I know how it was growing up there,” Natalie said. “In the Keys most everyone is connected to the environment whether it’s through personal recreation, tourism or concern about conservation and sustainability of the fragile ecosystem in the Keys, or even how climate change is affecting the area. Taking forward the appreciation and awareness of our human connection to our environment is one of the most important things a student can do, and we want to support students who want to use their future to make an impact on our planet’s health and well-being.”

Natalie first turned to Stefanie Rodriguez, Coral Shores college and career counselor, to create this opportunity. Upon realizing Natalie and Bruce’s desire to have their scholarship be a permanent one, Stefanie brought Elizabeth Brown, vice president for philanthropy for the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, into the conversation. 

“It has been such a pleasure getting to know Natalie and Bruce,” Brown said. “They could have chosen to establish a scholarship anywhere, and the fact that they chose to honor our Upper Keys community in this way speaks both to who they are as people and to how special this place is.”

Natalie and Bruce chose to establish a permanent scholarship fund through their estate plans and took advantage of a grant as part of the Jean Stearns Legacy Challenge to provide the seed money for this scholarship. 

More information about the Jean Stearns Legacy Challenge is at or from Brown at or 305-809-4995.

The foundation has granted over $32 million from Key Largo to Key West, supporting arts and culture, beautification and preservation of the Keys, health and human services, disaster relief, scholarships and youth programs. The foundation connects people, resources and needs through philanthropy. More information is at 305-292-1502 or