DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Niman Ranch awarded 23 scholarships totaling $85,000 through its annual Next Generation Scholarship Fund. Scholarships are presented to students from Niman Ranch’s independent farm families during its Farmer Appreciation Dinner. The scholarship is designed to raise awareness around the loss of traditional farming and ranching practices, and to ultimately help maintain this way of life by providing funding for college.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average age of farmers has steadily increased to 58-years old over the last 30 years. With student loan debt affecting two thirds of college graduates today, paying for college is a substantial barrier for young farmers and ranchers who face continually rising land costs. The number of beginning farmers in America fell by 20 percent between 2007 and 2012 alone. Niman Ranch recognizes that combatting the burden of student loan debt is crucial to helping new farmers stay on the land.
“Initiatives like the Next Generation Scholarship Fund within the Niman Ranch farm community contribute to keeping the average age of its farmers at 47-years old, which is more than ten years below the national average,” states Niman Ranch General Manager Jeff Tripician. “We’re proud to support the next generation of farmers with the funds needed to get a higher education.”
Applicants receive awards regardless of their major, but those in an agricultural-focused degree program are eligible for the David Serfling Memorial Scholarship, the highest award available to students. This year’s recipient was Jaclynn Knutson of Centerville, South Dakota. Jaclynn is currently seeking a double major at South Dakota State University in Animal and Agricultural Sciences, with minors in Ag Business, Marketing and Agronomy:
"Thank you to all employees, producers, distributors and consumers for making the Niman way possible. I am very honored to receive this award and excited to use my college experience to advance the pork industry."
Other Next Generation Scholarship recipients are from Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota. All will have a greater chance of returning to the farm after college with the funds awarded to help pay for their education.
The Next Generation Scholarship is made possible by donations from Niman Ranch’s business partners, which includes chefs and family-owned food distributors in America and the Cayman Islands. Businesses raise funds through a wide range of events, sales from special menu items and private contributions. Donors include:
Bob & Heather Whirley
Chipotle Mexican Grill
DeBragga & Spitler Inc.
Chef Gio Osso of Nico Heirloom Kitchen
Halperns’ Purveryors of Steak & Seafood
Chef Jason Cline of The Birchwood
Chef Jeffrey Hileman, The FarmTable Kitchen
Lone Star Foodservice
Marczyk Fine Foods
Natco Food Service
Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa & Chef Alice Gonzalez
Rebecca & Mark Davis
Results Sales & Marketing
Sterling Food Service
Tony’s Fine Foods
Turtle Beach Food Service
Trevor Ortman & Sharen Hauri
Chef Tyson Grant of Parkshore Grill
With more than 40 years as an industry leader, Niman Ranch is a community of more than 720 independent family farmers and ranchers who raise livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainable to deliver the finest-tasting meat. All Niman Ranch pork, beef, lamb and prepared products are certified under the Certified Humane® program and available nationwide at both food service and retail locations.