Horizon Organic has announced the 2012 recipients of the Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) Scholarships, which were established to encourage young people to enter the field of organic agriculture.
The four recipients are awarded $2,500 each to use toward their college education. Since the program began in 2007, Horizon has awarded 24 HOPE Scholarships to students who are children or grandchildren of its more than 600 family farmers. Horizon is the first national organic dairy brand to offer a scholarship program designed to build the next generation of organic leaders.
“Horizon is committed to building and growing the organic community because more organic acres farmed means fewer antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and genetically modified organisms in our environment,” said Mike Ferry, Horizon Organic president. “To do this, we must look to the future. That’s why we are so proud to support the next generation of organic leaders—including this year’s HOPE Scholarship winners— who are helping create a healthy planet, sustainable farms and wholesome food through organic farming.”
This year’s scholarship recipients, include:
• Callie Brodt (Ferndale, Calif.), age 18, is the granddaughter of Horizon producer, Jim Walker, who runs the Walker Dairy in Ferndale, Calif. Callie plans to pursue an Agricultural Business degree from Chico State University. In addition to working on her family’s organic dairy farm, Callie was also president, secretary and historian for her high school’s FFA chapter, an organization dedicated to helping prepare the next generation of agriculture leaders. “Growing up and living on an organic dairy has been rewarding in so many ways,” Callie said. “It’s taught me to work hard and instilled in me the importance of agriculture and the opportunities it has to offer. I hope to educate people and teach them not only the basics of organic agriculture, but also the overall importance of it.” HOPE Scholarship committee member Dr. Alan Greene noted that Callie is a “present and future leader.”
• Mieke DeJong (Bonanza, Ore.), age 20, is the daughter of Horizon producers, Arie and Jenneke DeJong, who run the Windy Ridge farm in Bonanza, Ore. This is Mieke’s second HOPE Scholarship, and she will be attending Oregon State University to pursue an Agricultural Business degree. Mieke, speaking about being raised on an organic dairy farm, says she “cannot think of a more fulfilling or rewarding way to grow up.” According to Mieke, “There is nothing I would rather do than further organic agriculture through education. We, as young adults, are the future of our country, and I want to be a part of promoting healthy and wise decisions that will affect our society.” HOPE Scholarship committee member Tracy Favre said Mieke has “clear goals and plans for furthering organic agriculture.”
• Ashlie Hardy (Farmington, Maine), age 18, is the daughter of Horizon producers, Henry and Teresa Hardy, who own Hardy Farm in Farmington, Maine. She plans to attend the Agricultural and Environmental Sciences program at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she will study Animal Science with a focus on dairy. Ashlie, who grew up helping on her family’s farm, started an FFA chapter at her high school and regularly competes at local, state and national FFA events. “I feel organic is an important and promising direction for our future,” said Ashlie. “With my education, I will be able to promote organic and help organic production grow (especially given) that people are really focusing on where their food comes from. With organic you know where your food came from, and what has been done with it. Someday I plan to be able to grow, and produce organic food for people, as well as educate them as to why it is important to our earth, and our lives.” HOPE Scholarship committee member Glenda Yoder said Ashlie’s experience “…gives her good insight. She recognizes the importance of organic agriculture in a broader sense.”
• Sierra Knight (Lisbon, N.Y.), age 18, is the daughter of Horizon producer Bradley Knight of Knight’s Meadow View Farm in Lisbon, N.Y. Sierra will attend St. Lawrence University where she plans to pursue a pre-veterinary program and a minor in biology with a goal of becoming a licensed veterinarian. She says it can often be challenging to find a veterinarian who understands organic regulations. “After obtaining the proper education, I would like to work with a vet with experience dealing with local organic farms,” said Sierra. “I (also) plan to make organic compliant medicine available to all my customers.” HOPE Scholarship committee member Steve Gilman commended Sierra for her outstanding scholastic achievements and because “the organic dairy/livestock industry is in need of appropriately trained vets.”
The HOPE Scholarship recipients were chosen by some of the organic industry’s leading voices. The committee included: Jerry Brunetti, founder of Agri-Dynamics and a leading authority on soil and animal health; Tracy Favre, former chief operations officer at Holistic Management International; Steve Gilman, policy coordinator, Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Interstate Council; Alan Greene, MD, founder of DrGreene.com; Faye Jones, executive director, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service; Bob Scowcroft, co-founder, Organic Farming Research Foundation (retired); and Glenda Yoder, associate director, Farm Aid.