MSU College of Agriculture students win more than $490K in scholarships
BOZEMAN – Montana State University College of Agriculture students, alumni, faculty, staff and scholarship donors celebrated the $490,000 in scholarships that were distributed to more than 200 students during the college’s annual scholarship banquet on Friday, Nov. 3 at MSU.
The banquet, held during the college’s annual Celebrate Agriculture event, attracted more than 300 Montana agricultural supporters from across the state. The banquet dinner featured a Montana-made meal highlighting local and regional foods and their agricultural producers.
During the banquet, MSU College of Agriculture faculty and staff recognized agriculture students who received scholarships during the 2017-2018 academic year. Also recognized was Dave Oien of Conrad, co-founder of Timeless Seeds Inc., and the college’s 2017 Outstanding Agricultural Leader. Montana businesses, families and individuals contributed to the more than 150 distinct, named scholarships housed in the College of Agriculture, according to Jessica Murdock, student services coordinator for the MSU College of Agriculture.
“The college is incredibly fortunate and honored to be able to provide this amount of scholarship support to our students,” Murdock said. “Representing all walks of life, agriculture students are accomplished as many of them balance their academics with leadership positions, community service activities, part-time jobs and more. The financial support provided by scholarships makes an immense difference in their ability to persist to graduation.”
The college’s scholarship pool has grown 20 percent in the last two years, Murdock said, adding that the more than 200 College of Agriculture students who received scholarships represent every option and curriculum in the college’s academic departments, with scholarships recipients averaging a 3.6 cumulative GPA. The college’s scholarship selection committee, consisting of faculty from every department in the college, considered nearly 350 scholarship applications.
Many of the scholarships provided to students come from current and historical Montana producers and generations of families who have long connections to the college, said Kevin Brown, senior development director for the College of Agriculture.
“The ag community in Montana has an enormous commitment to supporting agriculture students at MSU,” Brown said. “The support across the state, from individual families, agribusiness, public agencies and grower groups is humbling. I think the financial support for current agriculture students speaks to the authentic connection between MSU and Montana agriculture in a united commitment to support this next generation.”
Some of the scholarship funds date as far back as the 1950s, and continue today bearing the name of a family member from a farm or ranch, or former MSU Cooperative Extension agents, 4H leaders, or Montana Agricultural Experiment Station or college faculty, Brown said. Other scholarships are given from regional and local commercial agribusinesses such as the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Gallatin Valley Gardeners Club, Gallatin Beef Association, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Montana Grains Foundation, Gallatin County Cattlewomen’s Association, and diverse crop and beef producers and a host of College of Agriculture alumni.
Oien, an organic lentil pioneer, said the future of agriculture was reflected in the diversity of student stories and scholarship donors.
“The energy in the room this evening for agriculture is infectious,” Oien said while receiving his Outstanding Agricultural Leader award. “It’s so wonderful to see the students energized about the future of agriculture, alongside the support from the donors. I’m honored to be chosen as the award winner this year and I can see the future of agriculture is already here and it’s bright.”
The College of Agriculture welcomed a decade of enrollment growth in the fall semester. On a percentage basis, it is the fastest-growing academic college at MSU with a 78 percent enrollment increase since 2007. The College of Agriculture includes six academic departments and seven off-campus research stations through the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station. More than 1,200 students from 46 states and 16 countries are represented in the college’s student population.
–Montana State University