The Alabama Farmers Federation and local county Federations are investing in the future of Alabama agriculture by awarding almost $150,000 in scholarships to 85 Auburn University (AU) students pursuing degrees in agriculture or forestry.
Students from 60 counties were recognized during the 2016 Scholarship Recipients Luncheon Aug. 27 at the Ham Wilson Arena in Auburn.
Randolph County’s Luke Knight received his fourth consecutive Federation scholarship that day. He encouraged his peers to seek opportunities for Federation involvement.
“This scholarship provides students way more than money. This is your golden ticket to every agriculturalist in the state,” said the senior studying agricultural communications. “The opportunity to have this scholarship helps relieve the financial burden of my educational aspirations and opens up opportunities to network with people in the entire agricultural industry.”
Knight knows the effect Federation involvement can have. He was a finalist in the 2015 State Young Farmers Discussion Meet.
Marshall County Farmers Federation President Rickey Cornutt thanked the Federation on behalf of recipients’ parents. Cornutt’s daughter, Cara, was recognized at the luncheon.
“As a parent, I know this scholarship is going to help with tuition and books, but besides that, it’s going to help a child’s goals and dreams be met,” Cornutt said. “I’m glad to be part of an organization that cares about young people and invests money in their education.”
Alabama State Board of Education member Dr. Cynthia McCarty attended the scholarship program. She congratulated students on choosing a career path rooted in agriculture.
“Agriculture is such a hugely lucrative and interesting field,” said McCarty, a Jacksonville State University professor. “The most common mistake I see in college students is if they have one bad day — professor or test — they want to stop what they’re doing. Please don’t. You are so valuable, and we need you in agricultural careers.”
Blount County scholarship recipient Karri Fievet said the opportunities she gained through the Federation were life changing.
“The Alabama Farmers Federation scholarship is a key reason I have been able to continue my education in poultry science at the best agriculture school in the state,” said Fievet, who will graduate in December. “This scholarship is a blessing I hope to repay through my work in the agriculture industry.”
Fievet said she didn’t realize agriculture’s worldwide impact until she transferred to AU in the fall of 2014.
“Agriculture has sustained me as a person, and the Federation has graciously allowed me to continue as a student,” she said. “Through these scholarships, the Federation has given so many young people a real chance at the brightest future possible.”
The Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation (AFAF), with support from the Federation and Alfa Insurance, provided $1,250 in matching funds for each county Federation that contributed $500.
Sixty county-match scholarships were recognized at the luncheon, in addition to 24 students who received county Federation scholarships from Baldwin, Chilton, Dale, Henry, Houston, Jefferson, Lee, Madison and Monroe counties. One student received a solely AFAF-funded scholarship.