Heather Schafer Memorial Scholarship

The 2022 application period is now closed. Learn more about the 2022 recipients.

This scholarship recognizes exemplary emerging leaders in public safety who are committed to improving the fire and emergency services in the areas of health, safety, recruitment and retention, department culture, and emergency response. Four recipients received up to $1,500 to attend one of the NVFC’s training conferences in 2022.

Purpose of the Scholarship
This scholarship honors the legacy of longtime NVFC CEO Heather Schafer and is designed to assist the recipient’s professional growth as an emergency volunteer fire and emergency service leader through educational and networking opportunities offered through the NVFC’s training events and conferences.

Scholarship Goals
Candidates must have made an exemplary impact at their local level by demonstrating leadership in one of the following ways:

  • Promoting and supporting projects or activities that have positively impacted health and safety within their department.
  • Assisting in the development of a sound recruitment/retention plan for their department or region.
  • Participating in actions or activities that have measurably improved the emergency response capability of their department.
  • Contributed to an innovative solution that has improved the culture of the department in ways that relate to improved health, safety, recruitment and/or retention, and emergency response.

Scholarship Terms and Eligibility
The scholarship covers the cost of the registration fee, airfare (or mileage), meals, and lodging, up to $1,500, to a designated NVFC training event. In 2022, two scholarships were awarded for the Health & Safety Training Summit and two scholarships were awarded for the Recruitment and Retention Experience.

Eligible candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Candidate must be 18 or older.
  • Candidate must be a member of the National Volunteer Fire Council.
  • Candidate must be an active volunteer fire or emergency service responder or have served a significant role in the volunteer fire and emergency service community.
  • A candidate for the Heather Schafer Memorial Scholarship cannot nominate him/herself. An application must be submitted by an individual who possesses a strong understanding of the candidate’s contributions to the fire and emergency services at their local level.
  • Candidate cannot be a previous recipient of the Heather Schafer Memorial Scholarship.

Nomination Process
Nominations for the Heather Schafer Memorial Scholarship should be submitted online and include:

  • Letter of Nomination: The nomination letter must demonstrate how the actions or achievements of the candidate have made an exemplary, positive impact at the local level in advancing the capabilities of the department in health, safety, recruitment, retention, department culture, or emergency response. This statement should focus on specific activities and outcomes, including metrics when available, and specifically address the scholarship goals that are met by this candidate. Max length: 1000 words.
  • Letter of Support: A letter of support signed by the department president and/or chief is required.
  • Additional Materials (optional): Accompanying materials, such as additional letters of support, can be included in the application; however, the selection committee will place special emphasis on the aforementioned letters of nomination and support, which should convey how the candidate’s contributions have addressed any of the four goals described above.

The 2022 application period is now closed.

Selection Process
Scholarship recipients will be determined by a selection committee designated by the NVFC Board of Directors and may consist of directors, members, or individuals who were closely tied to Heather Schafer. The NVFC will notify the individual submitting the nominations of the final selection.

About Heather Schafer
Heather Schafer joined the NVFC in 1993 and took on the role of CEO in 1994, a position she served for 27 years until her death in 2021. During her tenure, the NVFC grew immensely – from hundreds of members and a staff of two, to over 25,000 members and a staff of 11. Under Heather’s leadership, the NVFC prospered and flourished, offering groundbreaking programs and resources to the volunteer fire and emergency services. She led the development of the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program, Fire Corps, Share the Load program, Make Me A Firefighter program, and more. She also formed many partnerships and collaborations that benefited the volunteer emergency services community. In addition, she oversaw the NVFC’s advocacy efforts, which resulted in many victories for the fire and emergency services over the years.

Heather understood the importance of effective leadership in the volunteer fire and emergency services. Her caring nature, quiet yet impactful leadership style, and dedication to advocating for all first responders helped to build a stronger fire and emergency services. She embraced the importance of health, safety, and the need to secure the future of the volunteer fire service through a sound recruitment and retention plan. She understood how the culture of an organization or a department can impact success. These key attributes are Heather’s legacy as an accomplished fire service leader.