By Dale Woodard
The seed has once again been planted for a career in the agricultural field. On Monday, the Rotary Club of Lethbridge East and Lethbridge & District Exhibition once again announced the Agricultural Scholarship Award program, which will award two $10,000 scholarships to two of Lethbridge and district’s top agricultural students.
In its fourth year, the Agricultural Scholarship Award program recognizes the importance of agriculture in the community by supporting top students in their pursuits of agricultural careers. Previous recipients of the scholarship were Lauren Machacek, Geni Whitdouck, Mallory Adams, Brady Donkersgoed and Aaron Lorenz.
“The Ag Scholarship program started from a couple of things,” said Andrew Bronson, co-chair of the Ag Scholarship Committee and the treasurer of the Rotary Club of Lethbridge East, at a breakfast Monday morning at the Lethbridge & District Exhibition. “One is our Rotary Club’s enthusiasm to support youth and also our enthusiasm for agriculture being the backbone for our community. So we thought, ‘How can we combine these two things?’”
Bronson said there are quite a few members of the Rotary Club with academic backgrounds.
“The scholarship situation right now is not really supportive of the high cost of education. So we thought (to do) a $10,000 scholarship. The first year we could only financially award one, but since then we’ve done two and we’re really looking forward to doing two or maybe even more to support these students.”
Part of the scholarship is to recognize how important it is to have agricultural students in Lethbridge, said Bronson.
“Every aspect of agriculture needs support and I know we have the college and other institutions offering great courses, but with this scholarship they can take it and go to other places. We hope they come back, but they don’t have to. I think if you look at the five recipients so far, we’ve met our goal of supporting future leaders in southern Alberta agriculture.”
The scholarship will be presented to a student who has completed at least the equivalent of two full years – 60 credit hours – of training at a recognized post-secondary institution in agriculture or in a related field with substantive and documented agricultural content.
The student must have demonstrated high academic achievement and leadership qualities in an agriculture related field. Applicants must either be a legal resident of southern Alberta or have lived in southern Alberta for seven of the past ten years.
Southern Alberta includes the Counties of Lethbridge, Taber, Warner, Forty Mile, Cardston, Pincher Creek, Ranchlands, Willow Creek, Cypress, Newell, Vulcan and all municipalities within the counties (e.g. Lethbridge, Brooks, Medicine Hat), the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and Blood (Kainai) and Piikani First Nations.
In keeping with the principles governing Rotary Foundation scholarships, Rotarians, Rotaractors and their immediate family members – parent, spouse, sibling, child, grandchild, nephew, niece, uncle or aunt – are not eligible to apply. Bronson said the agriculture talent is growing around southern Alberta.
“As the interview committee says, it’s too bad we can only give away two. But it’s a tough decision to select them. It’s like before any event, you wonder who is going to apply, but we know they are out there. When we get the applications in, we’ll get another group of people and it’ll be a tough decision.”
Bronson added it’s important to continue to promote the agricultural field in southern Alberta.
“Maybe COVID has highlighted how important food, supply chains and all those things are to us,” he said. “We’re maybe a little more aware than we were two years ago about how important it is. But I don’t think we can do enough to make people aware of it. We need to get the brightest interested in agriculture. There are some great careers in agriculture. I’m from sort of an agriculture background and came here as a veterinarian and I’ve had a great career in all ag-related activities and I’m still involved. I would encourage every young person, regardless of their background, to take a look at agriculture.”
The application will be available online Dec. 1 at rotarylethbridgeeast.ca or ag-expo.ca. Applicants must apply before Jan. 31, 2022.
A formal awards and fundraising dinner will be held on March 3, 2022 to present the Agricultural Scholarship Awards to the recipients.
A table of eight is $1,000 and individual tickets are $125 per person.
Tickets are available online at rotarylethbridgeeast.ca or ag-expo.ca or in-person at Lethbridge & District Exhibition, South Pavilion reception.