The Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation, a nonprofit education foundation in Illinois, recently received a $25,000 donation towards its Science Scholarship for high school seniors.

The Science Scholarship will be offered to Rock Island High School students who are interested in pursuing a college degree and then a career in a science field.  Seattle-based food safety law firm Marler Clark made the donation to the foundation.

“Foodborne illness outbreaks can affect a great many people,” said the firm’s managing partner William Marler.  “With this donation, we want to encourage young minds to consider science, in the hopes that the next generation can improve food safety for all of us.”

Marler Clark is nationally known for working on behalf of victims of foodborne illness.  The law firm and the community of Rock Island-Milan maintain a positive professional relationship after Marler Clark represented many residents in the 2009 outbreak of Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) that was traced to a McDonald’s restaurant in Milan.

Robert Mason, Principal of Rock Island High School, expressed thoughts that the scholarship will provide a positive incentive for college-bound students.  “It is our sincere desire for students at Rock Island High School who are interested in pursuing a college degree in the science field to take advantage of this generous opportunity.”

The Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation manages 11 separate scholarships for graduating Rock Island High seniors.  For more information on the foundation or its scholarships, please see their website.

This is not the first time Marler Clark has made donations to communities affected by foodborne illness.  

Earlier this year, Marler Clark donated $25,000 to client Stephanie Smith’s alma mater Rocori High School in Cold Springs, Minnesota.  Smith nearly died in 2007 after consuming a Cargill hamburger contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.  Her case was finally settled in May of 2010 with Cargill agreeing to provide a semi-paralyzed Smith with medical care throughout her life.

“When communities have been hit by a foodborne illness outbreak, it’s not unusual for us to donate something to one of the local high schools,” said Marler.

Marler Clark has set up similar scholarships in the past.  Most recently the firm donated to  Heritage High School in Lynchburg, VA after the community was affected by the PCA peanut butter Salmonella outbreak case.  The Peanut Corp. of America, based in Lunchburg, VA was responsible for one of the largest nationwide peanut product recalls and was blamed in nine Salmonella deaths.

The firm has also donated to other causes in honor of clients. The firm donated to7-year old Abby Fenstermaker‘s former elementary school.  Fenstermaker passed away after suffering complications from consuming a hamburger contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

San Francisco area Green Valley High School also received a donation from the firm  after high school staff member Linda Rivera had to be hospitalized after becoming infected with E. coli O157:H7.