27 Mar 2016 - Students, Financial Help is Out There

At National Agriculture Day in Washington, D.C. last month, I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of young people. There were 4-H’ers, FFA members, AFA members and National Outstanding Young Farmers of America in attendance.

I especially enjoyed visiting with members of the A.F.A., the Agriculture Future of America. This would be the next step after membership in FFA because it involves young people, men and women, who are involved in getting an agricultural education at colleges and universities across the country.

While they are excited and enthused about the career opportunities in agriculture and agribusiness, quite a few of them expressed concern about the cost of getting a college education. Those costs continue to climb. I know personally because I have a grandson who is a student at Miami of Ohio and a granddaughter who, this Fall, will be a student at the University of Charleston in South Carolina. Their dad, my son, has shared with me the cost of getting a college education for them and it, indeed, is expensive .

That is why I want to remind you this week that there are many avenues of financial assistance to get that education. There are scholarship programs all over the country, whether it is agricultural cooperatives, corporations and agribusinesses, or individuals who have established scholarship funds to help these young people pursue their career dream.

So, my advice to anyone who is taking agricultural courses in a university, check out the number of scholarships available. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t get a press release talking about some company, organization or individuals awarding scholarships to deserving students. After starting to compose this Samuelson Sez, I received a press release with this headline…”Zoetis awards scholarships to more than 350 veterinary students at the 2016 Student American Veterinary Medical Association Conference. The annual program awards more than $700,000.00 in scholarships to rising veterinary students.” Think what that could mean to an aspiring veterinarian!

Many individuals do the same, probably not the size of the Zoetis grant. But again on a personal note, my wife Gloria and I have an established scholarship fund at the University of Illinois. In 2015, we were able to award five $1500.00 scholarships to deserving students studying agriculture.

Talk to your counselors in high school and college, and check out the financial assistance programs that are available through scholarships. It takes some time and effort, but it’s worth it.

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