Corn growers offer a combination scholarship-leadership training program: Welcome the Agvocates!

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

If you are a college student, particularly in a field related to agriculture, Minnesota Corn Growers Association has a deal for you.

“Everyone can use a little help paying for college nowadays,” said Tim Dolan. “We’ve combined that with a program that connects these young people with corn grower leaders, agriculture leaders and opportunities to interact with elected officials and the public—to channel their energy into projects that help agriculture, that advance the issues of corn growers in the state of Minnesota. Their spirited, articulate interactions with the public will help us corn growers tell our story to the public and be proactive about how agriculture is perceived by consumers.”

Dolan serves as chairman of MCGA’s Producer Services Team, and as chairman of the National Corn Growers Association Grower Services Team, he helped pioneer a college scholarship program through NCGA, too. What sets the Agvocates program apart is the hands-on involvement.

Successful candidates accepted to the yearlong program will receive a $3,000 scholarship, made in two payments of $1500, one in each college semester. The program is accepting students between the ages of 18 and 24 (as of January 1, of the year they apply), who are actively enrolled in two- or four-year secondary education or training program. Applications are due by April 19.

“Education is the lighthouse of hope for agriculture,” said Dolan. ”Education will be the key to keeping our ships from banging into the hard rocky shores of all the issues we have now. The Agvocates program will be a way to get kids out there to get practical experience and then take those experiences back into the classroom—we want to tie the classroom and real world learning together. We feel certain that these opportunities provided by Agvocates will help kids to know how things work in the world of agriculture. On the practical, career level, it can be a foot in the door in your chosen field and help you really zero in on what you want to do, and make contacts that can help achieve those career goals.”

The first leadership opportunity for MCGA Agvocates will be participation in a two-day training, the Minnesota Agriculture Ambassador Institute June 14-15, 2010 (required). Next, Agvocates will work with corn grower leaders and interact with the public at two of the state’s premier agricultural events, FarmFest, which takes place August 3-5 this year; and the Minnesota State Fair. Participation for at least one day is required for both of these events. Also required, spending at least one of the two days of MCGA’s annual convention, MN Ag EXPO which takes place Monday and Tuesday, January 17-18, 2011.

Beyond that, Agvocates will select two elective activities that range from helping at the Governor’s Ethanol Challenge racing series, which promotes E85, to writing  an article to appear in an MCGA publication.

Students interested in more information, or to obtain the application form, can go to: http://www.mncorn.org/images/stories/AgvocateProgram.pdf

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