FAIRMONT– Each year, the Agri-business committee of the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce gives away two scholarships to students in Martin County who are in their senior year of high school and planning to go to college to study an ag-related field. The deadline to apply is coming up on March 9.
Ned Koppen, Farimont Area Chamber president, said the scholarships are $4,200 each and $3,200 goes toward tuition and $1,000 pays entry for the student to go to the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) annual conference. Last year’s conference was in Kansas City, MO.
“It’s a really cool deal because they get to network and make connections with people in broad and potentially national ag-related businesses,” Koppen said.
The scholarships are funded by a host of local sponsors which includes Compeer Financial Services, Bank Midwest, Devenish Nutrition, Fairmont Veterinary Clinic, Kahler Automation, Martin County Pork Producers, Preferred Capital Management, Profinium Financial, Valero Renewables, CFS, First Farmers and Merchants Bank and Wayffels Hybrids.
The agri-business committee also organizes and puts together the annual Blue Ribbon Pork Cook-Off at the Martin County Fair. The proceeds from that also goes toward the scholarships.
In addition to organizing the cook-off and funding the scholarship, the agri-business committee meets the third Tuesday of each month from November through May. The meetings consist of community updates, a meal and a speaker that either educates or informs.
Koppen said the committee also goes through all of the applications and comes up with several finalists who they interview before selecting two students. So far they’ve received several applications.
“We’re hopeful we’ll have plenty to choose from,” Koppen said.
He said they’re trying to find more ways to let students, teachers and families know about the ag scholarships.
“No matter how many applicants we have, we always want more. We want everyone to have an opportunity. It’s a fairly sizable scholarship,” Koppen said.
He asked that parents of students them to fill out an application, or if anyone knows of a student who would be interested, to apply.
The two students who are selected are also the guest speakers at the May agri-business committee meeting. There they are given the opportunity to introduce themselves and share what their future plans are.
Last year’s recipients were SkyeLi Malo from Fairmont High School and Gabriella Lange from Martin County West.
Koppen said they’ve continued to give out the scholarships year after year because ag is a big part of the community.
“As an industry, it’s the biggest part of our community. This gives our own kids an opportunity to continue in that field and the hope is that they go and figure out who and what they want to be and they might end up back here and contribute to the ag community as well,” Koppen said.
Students can apply at agfuture.org/scholarships.