Doing undergraduate research allows you to work closely with a faculty member. Not only will you learn a lot, but the skills and character traits that you display during the course of your project give a faculty advisor a lot of material to rave (or complain) about when it comes time to writing letters of recommendation. These detailed letters carry a lot more weight when applying for graduate school than do the more general letters written on the basis of class performance alone. The detailed knowledge that an advisor has also can be tremendously effective when talking to potential employers during phone interviews. (Yes, potential employers often do call the people you list as references!)
Talk to your advisor about these various scholarship possibilities--you may get some particularly useful advise particular to a given funding body.
Summary: Students with a QPA > 3.25 can apply for $3,000 to support an independent research project. Go talk with someone whose class you found interesting and see if the two of you can dream up a research project. Faculty often have a handfull of appropriate projects on hand.
Summary: Juniors and seniors can apply for research positions at selected national laboratories across the country that house amazing analytical facilities for geologists and environmental geologists. The link takes you to the list of labs--you will see that several are in great parts of the country and include a lot of environmental research. The appointments are usually for one semester and include a weekly stipend, free housing or a housing allowance, and one roundtrip airfare.
Summary: Brackenridge Fellows are selected on the basis of their academic record and the originality and promise of their proposed projects, as well as their aspiration to create and participate in an interdisciplinary community of students in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and applied disciplines. They get $800 per month over the summer months to free them from summer employment needs and thus allow a complete focus on the proposed work.
Summary: $600 is available to students wishing to help teach an course in collaboration with a faculty member. If you liked a class but could see ways in which you would have liked to have improved it, go talk with the professor and see if your ideas can be incorporated within the class the next time it's taught.
Summary: $600 is available to students wishing to undertake some independent reserach. Go talk with someone whose class you found interesting and see if the two of you can dream up a research project. Faculty often have a handfull of appropriate projects on hand.
Summary: There is a wide range of scholarships available to support summer study abroad expierences. These could include normal classroom experiences, or you may be able to support an undergraduate research project that is based in another country. There are scholarships specific to certain countries as well as ones that can be used for any foreign country. The amounts generally range from $1,000 to $4,000. A paid summer in another country beats a summer job in retail!
You have to go to the Nationality Rooms Program Office (1209 Cathedral of Learning, phone 624-6150) to check out the details and pick up the application forms. These forms become available after Thanksgiving, interviews begin in early to mid-December, and the last completed applications are due sometime in late January.
Summary: This site maintains a set of links related to undergraduate research funding. Click on "Funding" to see a list of funding sources. The "NSF REU" links get you to various National Science Foundation program pages. There is a separate undergraduate research opportunities program under the Earth Sciences division, which your faculty advisor should know all about.
Note that the "Opportunities" link from the URO may have internships and other programs of interest.