Numerous scholarship opportunities exist for students who want to go to college and who have fathers or other close family members who work as farmers or ranchers. These scholarships come from a variety of sources -- often from agricultural organizations to which the parent belongs. Other scholarships are available to students who wish to continue the farming tradition in their family.
Scholarships From Private Businesses
Private agricultural businesses are an excellent source of scholarships for students. For example, the Monsanto Company sponsors its annual “American’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders;” scholarship program to generate interest the field of agriculture. This scholarship awards $1,500 to high school seniors who are from a farm family and who plan to enroll as full-time students in an accredited school and to major in a field related to agriculture. Students do not need to be members of Future Farmers of America to be eligible. They do, however, need to reside within one of Monsanto's "Eligible Counties," which are listed, by state, on the scholarship website. Applicants must be under the age of 23 and have at least a 2.5 grade point average at the time of application.
The Daughters of American Agriculture Scholarship
The American Agri-Women is a national coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women’s organizations. This coalition sponsors the "Daughters of American Agriculture Scholarship," which was created to honor the memory of the pioneering women who helped found this nation to encourage the current generation to pursue careers in agriculture. The scholarship awards $1,000 to women in farming, ranching and agribusiness or to their daughters in two categories – the Jean Ibendahl Scholarship is open to high school graduates from age 18 to 23 and the Sister Thomas More Bertels Scholarship is open to women age 24 and over. To be eligible, students must be a farmer or rancher, or be the wife, daughter or close relative of the farmer or rancher. Applicants must also show an economic or financial need, submit three letters of recommendation and demonstrate knowledge or experience in agriculture. In addition, the applicant’s grade point average or scores on placement tests will be considered. Scholarship recipients must pursue accredited courses in agricultural leadership, communications, rural sociology, medicine or in courses related to agriculture.
Financial institutions that grant loans or provide other banking services to farmers are also great sources of scholarship money. Farm Credit Mid-America is one such example. Each year, this institution offers 26 scholarships, worth $1,000, and 26 scholarships, worth $1,500, to Farm Credit customers or to children and grandchildren of Farm Credit customers. To be eligible, applicants must be incoming college freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors in good standing at any two- or four-year college or university. No specific career or major is required, but Farm Credit gives preference to students who plan to pursue a career in agriculture or in a related field. Applicants must also have a background in agriculture or have agricultural work-related experience. The applicant must submit two essays on selected topics; provide a list of volunteer, leadership and extracurricular activities; and have a 3.0 or higher grade point average.
Commodity associations are those associations that center around farmers who produce a specific item. Many of those associations offer scholarships. For example, the American Soybean Association offers the Secure Optimal Yield, or SOY, scholarship. This is a one-time, $5,000 scholarship awarded to a high school senior whose parent or grandparent is a current member of the American Soybean Association. The National Corn Growers Association -- in conjunction with the BASF Corporation -- offers five $1,000 NCGA William C. Berg Academic Excellence in Agriculture Scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students, who are members of the association, or whose parents or legal guardians are members of the association. To be eligible, the applicants must be entering at least their second undergraduate year at an accredited junior college, college or university or entering any year of graduate study. Applicants must be pursuing a degree in agriculture, agribusiness, or in an agricultural vocational field.
A native of Nashville, Tenn., Dannelle F. Walker is an education lawyer and policy maker. Her areas of expertise include teacher liability, educator ethics, and school operations. She holds a JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law.