Horizon Organic awards annual scholarships to support future organic agriculture leaders

Horizon Organic Published on 22 July 2011

Horizon Organic announced the recipients of the 2011 Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) scholarships, which were established to encourage young people to enter the field of organic agriculture. Each recipient will receive $2,500 toward their education.

“This year marks Horizon’s 20th anniversary, and we’re proud to celebrate 20 years of transitioning farmers to organic; making products that are healthier for families; advancing organic farming practices; and protecting the integrity of the organic seal,” said Mike Ferry, Horizon Organic president. “As more and more consumers seek nutritious food options made without the use of pesticides, added hormones, and antibiotics, the importance of building the next generation of organic dairy leaders is critical. These young men and women are the future of organic agriculture, and we’re proud to be able to help support their education with the HOPE Scholarship.”

This year’s scholarship recipients include:
Edgar Demmitt, Troy, Ohio, age 19. Son of David and Debora Demmitt, Demmitt is currently pursuing an agricultural business degree at Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio. Not only does Demmitt work and live on his family’s 1,100-acre organic dairy farm, helping raise certified organic hay, spelt, beans and corn, he also owns five organic Brown Swiss heifers and is leasing 15 acres of organic cropland to better understand what it is like to run his own organic dairy and crop farm.

“The education that I am receiving is helping me see that as an up-and-coming farmer, our soil is extremely important and we need to conserve it so that we can continue to farm it in future generations,” Demmitt says. “I believe that my education will help me be a better farmer so that I can continue to practice organic farming and even teach others about the benefits of drinking organic milk and why organic farming will keep our environment healthy and safe.”

Mieke DeJong, Bonanza, Oregon, age 19. Daughter of Arie and Jenneke DeJong, DeJong attends Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California, pursuing a degree in agricultural business management. DeJong became interested in organic farming when her parents transitioned their dairy farm from conventional to organic in 2004.

“The experiences of organic dairy farming, from putting cows out to pasture or farming organic grains with my family and co-workers in the summer, shows me the hard work and care all organic farms and dairies put into what they produce. Organic is a family legacy worth passing on,” she says. “I now have a better understanding of what organic truly means and am dedicated to pursuing an education that promotes and furthers organic agriculture.”

Philip Fagundes, Merced, California, age 18. Son of Ralph and Vicki Fagundes, Fagundes plans to attend California State University, Fresno this fall, majoring in agricultural business. Fagundes currently manages 100 acres of organic corn and oat silage, which he markets to local organic dairy farmers.

“[At California State University], I will learn how to present organic agriculture to the general public to educate people who are not familiar with the health and environmental advantages of organics,” Fagundes says. “I want to put my education to use by expanding the number of organic acres which I farm,” he concluded.

One of the scholarship review committee members, Tracy Favre of Holistic Management International, noted that Fagundes would be “a great asset to future organic agriculture.”

Marjorie Hardy, Farmington, Maine, age 20. Daughter of Henry and Teresa Hardy, Hardy is a two-time recipient of the HOPE Scholarship. She recently received her associate’s degree in dairy science and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications at The Ohio State University. Hardy plans to pursue a career in advertising and writing to promote organic dairy, and help educate people on organic agriculture.

She states, “I strongly believe that the public needs a higher education on agriculture in general to have an understanding of their food and all that goes into it and where it comes from.”

As a review committee member who recommended Hardy for the scholarship, Jerry Brunetti of Agri-Dynamics noted her “rounded, global experience in dairy.”

Prominent members of the organic and agricultural communities reviewed and selected deserving applicants. The 2011 scholarship review committee included: Jerry Brunetti, founder of Agri-Dynamics and leading authority on soil and animal health; Tracy Favre, chief operations officer at Holistic Management International; Dr. Alan Greene, clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine; Faye Jones, executive director, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service; Bob Scowcroft, former executive director, Organic Farming Research Foundation; and Glenda Yoder, associate director, Farm Aid. The HOPE scholarships are open to Horizon producers, as well as the children and grandchildren of Horizon producers. PD

—From Horizon Organic news release

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