BY ERIN HENKEL
The IAA Foundation announced three new scholarships designed to enhance the future of agriculture by enabling more students to study agriculture and related fields. Students may apply now through Feb. 15.
“Much like agriculture, our scholarship program continues to diversify,” said Jennifer Smith, development manager with IAA Foundation. “Driven by our donors’ wishes, we can offer scholarships to individuals who undoubtedly will be prepared to meet the demand of our ever-changing industry.”
This year the IAA Foundation is offering 110 awards totaling $192,001, with each of the scholarships varying in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $7,500.
The three new scholarships include the Promoting Careers in Agriculture Scholarship, the Robert E. Koeller Scholarship and the Allen and Ellen M. Blessman Scholarship.
Promoting Careers in Agriculture Scholarship
A $1,000 award was established to support individuals who can effectively and efficiently get the job done. To be eligible, students must be an Illinois resident who exhibits potential for completion of an agriculture trade-related degree or certification at an accredited institution.
The donor, wishing to remain anonymous, spoke with the IAA Foundation about the purpose of the scholarship.
The donor received a county agriculture scholarship as an undergraduate and graduated debt-free. The donor also highlighted the importance of continuing education to develop a future workforce capable of meeting industry needs as it becomes more technologically advanced.
Lastly, the donor emphasized the importance of training and certification programs outside of the typical four-year track and hopes the scholarship will help facilitate more students entering their professional lives to pursue a trade-related program.
“It is in our own interest to help develop the future pool of employees needed,” the donor said. “As agriculture becomes higher tech each year, the knowledge and skills required keep advancing and evolving. Those dedicated to working in this field will succeed by staying ahead in this ongoing learning process.”
Robert E. Koeller Scholarship
A $1,000 award that pays tribute to the life of Robert “Bob” E. Koeller, his love of making agriculture a better way of life, his leadership in the Farm Bureau and his generous ways of helping others.
To be eligible, students must be an IFB member or son/daughter of a member, must be majoring in an agriculture-related field and must be a resident of Bond, Calhoun, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin or Madison County.
Growing up, the original Koeller Brothers, Bob and his brother, Louis, would discuss issues facing agriculture and the future of the family farm, including the next generation’s ability to become active in the industry.
Bob Koeller was active in his community, helping establish a local church, serving on multiple local committees including managing the Godfrey Township Utility Board where he worked to establish a new sewer system and treatment facility and helped guide the incorporation of Godfrey into a village.
The Koeller family has nearly a century of involvement in Farm Bureau, either serving Madison County Farm Bureau or representing District 15 on the IAA Board.
Koeller was also a family man, taking his sons on fishing trips to Minnesota and encouraging his children to pursue their passions.
The Koeller family described him as always being willing to extend a helping hand and offer advice to those interested and passionate in the industry. The scholarship is a continuation of his helping hand.
“He would be very proud of it. When I surprised my mom with it once I got it established, I showed it to her and how it was written up and she thought it was very special,” said Steve Koeller, Bob’s son and current District 15 director.
The family created the scholarship to continue Koeller’s legacy of inspiring young minds to pursue their dreams and passions in the “wonderful world of agriculture.”
Allen and Ellen M. Blessman Scholarship
Fifteen $1,000 awards will honor Blessman, a longtime farmer in Mason County. He was a strong supporter of agricultural education and supporting future students was a priority in his charitable wishes.
To be eligible, students must be an Illinois resident, member or son/daughter of an IFB member and must be an agricultural education major at an accredited Illinois institution. The creation of this scholarship by the Blessman Family Foundation works to honor Blessman and the interests he expressed.
“We are proud and humbled by the confidence our donors place in us to carry out their charitable wishes, and look forward to finding deserving student recipients,” Smith said.While each scholarship in the 2024 program has slightly different eligibility requirements, all details and application guidelines are available online, iaafoundation.org.
Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.