As Cooperative Month comes to a close, we would like to take one last look at our 2014 Scholarship Winner’s Cooperative Essays and their insight as to why Cooperatives are important to the agriculture industry.
By: Jared Harshman, 2014 Scholarship Winner from Mt. Airy, Maryland
“Today’s farmer (agricultural advocate) is continually facing challenges brought on by numerous factors, whether it be government regulations (federal, state, local), environmental/climate issues or society’s growing population. Cooperatives, like MidAtlantic Farm Credit, allow today’s agricultural advocates to bond together to help educate the public [about] agriculture and the benefits of the modern day farmer for today’s society. Cooperatives help the single voice of a farmer to be joined with others to respond in unison to concerns/issues facing today’s farmers. With the decrease in the agricultural footprint in some states, like Maryland, it is key to have cooperatives align agriculture advocates to preserve the remaining farm land for our future generations. Besides joining the voice of the local farmer with those across the nation, cooperatives also serve the purpose of a capital investment facilitator for the local farmer. Cooperatives are beneficial to the local farmer by allowing them the ability to procure local, low interest business loans for the purpose of investing in their business plan. The agricultural advocate’s ability to procure loans to advance their business plan is imperative as it needs to be aligned with the new regulations being put into place at all levels of our government. Compliance to these regulations almost always requires a capital/financial investment by the agricultural advocate. Having cooperatives that have working knowledge of the agriculture industry and current industry trends within agricultural markets only help to serve the future of our farms. The strength of today’s cooperatives will serve as the backbone for the future of our agriculture industry by aligning the various voices of our farmers to become one voice with one unified message.”
By: Jonah Vincent, 2014 Scholarship Winner from Laurel, Maryland
“Cooperatives are businesses which are used and controlled by the membership. The purpose is to financially benefit its owners-members. In the agri-business industry, cooperatives, over the years, have provided goods and services to farmers that otherwise might not be offered. Many facets of American Agriculture are serviced by cooperatives. Financial cooperatives, such as MAFC, provide their members with dependable and low cost borrowing for their expenses. Supply cooperatives, such as Southern States, work to provide reasonably priced supplies such as seed, fertilizers, and chemicals to their members. Electric cooperatives supply electricity to remote areas that would not be served by for-profit utility companies. Marketing cooperatives provide options for members to profitably market their products Land 0′ Lakes (dairy), Blue Diamond Growers (nuts), and Ocean Spray (cranberries) are just a few examples of the successful agricultural cooperatives. In the future, cooperatives have the opportunity to continue to be the backbone of American production agriculture. As we face increasing development pressure in our rural areas, the quantity of smaller farms will likely continue to fall. Cooperatives, as in the past, will serve to maintain much of the infrastructure that is needed to keep our farmers competitive in a global economy. Cooperative support of youth improvement organizations such as 4-H and FFA extension programs will also greatly serve America’s agricultural future. These groups provide many American youth interested in agricultural careers with extraordinary learning and leadership experiences, that will help them be prepared to compete in the modern economy.”
By: Megan Miller, 2014 Scholarship Winner from Strasburg, Pennsylvania
“Growing up in Lancaster County, I have experienced three different parts of the local economy: farming, tourism, and land development. With a growing population and a concern for health, there is an increased need for quality, locally grown food. Every year I see a depletion of farmland and the progression of new developments in place of the farmland. Because of this, cooperatives are becoming more vital to sustain small farms and agriculture businesses. There are many types of cooperatives that can help, all having a common thread of member ownership. Cooperatives are organized and owned by a group of farmers. One benefit of one type of cooperative is that the group has more of a voice in legislature than a single member or small farmer. Cooperatives can make sure that the opinions of farmers are heard. In addition to more political influence, cooperatives benefit members economically. Cooperatives can provide a secure source of supplies, providing greater purchasing power, and through cooperatives, such as MidAtlantic Farm Credit, provide financing and funding for land, equipment and operations. Cooperatives help market and sell products that would have limited reach of single small farmer. A cooperative can be one of the most beneficial ways for farmers and small agri-businesses in local communities to stay in business. In addition to helping local farmers succeed, cooperatives are beneficial to rural communities. Stronger communities are built due to the encouragement and funding of cooperatives in community events such as fairs, health centers, and fundraisers. By working together, the members gain an understanding of how to solve community problems. Consumers are also among the beneficiaries of cooperatives by providing quality products and services, Cooperatives not only help agriculture in the United States, but are also helping farming around the world, assisting communities in Africa develop local and international markets for their products. By understanding the economy of rural areas, cooperatives help families like mine achieve their dreams and aspirations of a rural life.”
By: Lauren Linton, 2014 Scholarship Winner from Martinsburg, West Virginia
“I have grown up on a local dairy farm and understand the need and importance of cooperatives for a farming business. A cooperative is a group of people that come together for a common goal. Several benefits that come from partnering with cooperatives include but are not limited to bulk purchasing discounts, and large quantity sales. With today’s agribusinesses being more diversified and producing more on smaller tracks of real-estate, financing and equity becomes more difficult to balance and we all have to be more open minded and cost conscious about spending and borrowing. Cooperatives like MidAtlantic Farm Credit understand the business of agriculture. Without cooperatives like this farming would not be as prosperous as it is today. These cooperatives are trusting of their shareholders to make choices that will prolong the agriculture and cooperative relationships for years to come!”
Each year, we are continually impressed with our scholarship applicants and all they have to offer their communities, their potential colleges, and themselves. We would like to extend one last congratulations to all of our 2014 Scholarship Winners and good luck in all of their future endeavors.
We are currently accepting applications to our Scholarship Program for the 2015-2016 school year. The deadline for all application materials is January 16, 2015.
Affording a college education can be difficult. With tuition prices increasing annually, scholarships are an excellent way to supplement your cash flow. Of course, at times it can be challenging to find scholarships that fit your experience, talents and major — especially since many schools don’t offer farming-related programs.
If you need more scholarships to apply for, check out Campus Explorer’s list of great agriculture scholarships.
1. Annie’s Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship
Annie’s Homegrown might be best known for their organic macaroni and cheese or their rabbit-shaped snacks. But the company also offers impressive scholarships for agriculture students. Each year, Annie’s awards their Agriculture Scholarship, which divides $100,000 among students who will have a future impact on sustainable farming.
Applicants are required to submit an essay about the importance of sustainable, organic agriculture.
Amount: First-place winners receive $10,000 towards their tuition, and runners-up receive $2,500
Eligibility Requirements: Full-time undergraduate and graduate students studying sustainable agriculture at an accredited two- or four-year college or graduate school in the U.S.
Application deadline: Dec. 15
2. USDA William Helms Scholarship
The USDA is dedicated to more than experienced agriculturists. Each year, students studying agriculture or a related biology-based subject can apply for a scholarship that's renewable annually until the winner graduates.
And there’s more to the award than money. Students who win the William Helms Scholarship receive mentoring and a paid internship with the USDA over their summer and winter breaks. Upon graduation, they are also considered for a permanent position within the company.
In order to qualify, students must craft a personal letter that explains why they’ve chosen to major in agriculture and what they hope to do after college.
Amount: $5,000 renewable annually until the winner graduates
Eligibility Requirements: Any student studying agriculture or a related biology-based subject with a GPA of at least 2.5
Application deadline: March 1
3. NCGA Academic Excellence in Agriculture Scholarship
Each year, the National Corn Growers Association offers five college students scholarships to fund their agriculture education. Along with the prize money and recognition at the annual awards banquet, winners also receive tickets to the NCGA Commodity Classic in Nashville, with all transportation and lodging fees covered. Attending the Classic allows students to learn about the agriculture industry and see its professionals at work.
Applicants for the NCGA Academic Excellence in Agriculture Scholarship don’t need to be pursuing a corn-related career, though. Majoring in any agriculture related field, including business or viticulture, is allowed. Applicants must write a 500 word essay on why they wish to pursue an agricultural career.
Eligibility Requirements: Must be at least a college sophomore enrolled in a two- or four-year program majoring in any agriculture related field, including business or viticulture
Application deadline: December 9
4. CHS Scholarship
Missing a scholarship’s deadline can be the most frustrating part of the application process. Luckily, the CHS Foundation offers scholarships throughout the year. Students can apply for one of three different deadlines, and the awards are plentiful as well.
CHS offers two-year scholarship programs, for students in a two-year college program, and four-year scholarship programs, for those in four-year university farming programs. CHS also offers 50 high school students scholarships worth $1,000, however, they must have in interest in pursuing a career in agriculture.
Amount: $1,000 award that's renewable until graduation and members of farming clubs on campus are eligible for an additional $1,000
Eligibility Requirements: Varies depending on specific scholarship
Application deadline: April 1
5. National Holstein Women’s Scholarship
Agriculture is a field traditionally dominated by men. Yet the National Holstein Women’s Scholarship Organization hopes to change this fact. Formed in 1980, the organization has dedicated over 20 years to educating young women on farming practices and technology. NHWSO has awarded over $157,000 and 139 scholarships in its history.
Originally available only to female students, the scholarship is now open to all agriculture students. It’s recommended that applicants become a member of the NHWSO before applying. Not only will their applications receive preferential treatment, but students will also be updated on the scholarship judging process.
Eligibility Requirements: Should be a member of the NHWSO
Application deadline: February 1
- If you’re from a farming family, don’t forget that the chores you do on a daily basis count as work experience. Students with actual farming experience should use this to their advantage.
- Make your essay connect with readers. No matter what your essay prompt is, try to include something that everyone can relate with and feel connected to. After all, agriculture produces food, and everyone has to eat, right?
- Don’t forget to list your awards and accomplishments. Many scholarship applications give you the option to submit an awards resume, so take advantage of that opportunity!
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