Agriculture Students Will Find Abundance of Scholarships

Money for school is available for students pursuing a variety of agriculture fields.

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There is no shortage of scholarship money for students with a desire to pursue a career in agriculture. From winemaking to potato growing, and everything in between, the opportunities are abundant.

Agriculture is more than just farming or ranching; ag careers include agricultural engineering, agronomy, crop and soil sciences, entomology, food sciences, horticulture and plant pathology—to name a few. If you're interested in pursuing a career in this vital industry, read on for opportunities to earn serious scholarship bucks at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Collegiate upperclassmen and graduate students interested in studying the sciences of winemaking and grape growing will want to check out the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, which offers numerous scholarships annually. The award amounts are not predetermined, and previous recipients may reapply each year and compete with new applicants for the awards. Applicants must be a minimum of junior status for the upcoming academic year to be eligible.

[Read more about studying the business of making wine.]

Women in farming or ranching, including wives and daughters of farmers and ranchers, may be eligible for the Daughters of American Agriculture Scholarships, worth $1,000 each. Daughters of American Agriculture was created to honor the memory of the "courageous and adventuresome pioneer women who played such an important role in the founding of this nation" and to "encourage the present generation to continue their education in agricultural pursuits." DAA scholarship awards are not renewable.

The National Potato Council offers a $5,000 scholarship that, according to its Website, is awarded to "a graduate student pursuing advanced studies in Agribusiness which enhance the Potato Industry." Academic achievement, leadership abilities, and "potato-related areas of graduate study" are among the selection criteria. The application deadline is June 1.

The United States Department of Agriculture is abloom with opportunities for both undergrads and graduate students. Several different USDA scholarship programs offer anywhere from $5,000 to annually renewable full tuition for selected students, along with paid internships and possible employment following graduation:

• If plant health—including plant pathology, biology, virology, ecology, or entomology—is your thing, the PPQ William F. Helms Student Scholarship program may be your ticket to college—and work experience. This scholarship offers up to $5,000 per year of enrollment in an undergraduate degree program, as well as mentoring, paid work experience during school breaks, and possible employment after graduation for qualified students.

[Learn about finding the net price of college.]

• For students more interested in animals, the Saul T. Wilson, Jr. Scholarship Program provides up to $5,000 per year in assistance to undergraduate students and $10,000 per year to grad students pursuing a career in public veterinary health. Like the Helms opportunity listed above, this scholarship includes paid employment during school breaks and the possibility of employment upon graduation with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

• Future public service leaders might want to consider the Public Service Leaders Scholarship Program, which offers full-tuition scholarships to undergrad and graduate students, in addition to mentoring, paid internships, and automatic employment following successful completion of the degree program. The length of this scholarship is two years, and students who will start their college junior or senior year or master's degree in fall 2012 are preferred.

Last, but not least, students who are interested in sustainable agriculture and the health of our planet may be eligible for Annie's Sustainable Agriculture Scholarships. Annie's, a producer of natural and organic food products, believes that healthy soils and farms are the framework for healthy foods, which in turn contribute to making healthy people. Scholarships are worth a total of $100,000, and are available at two award levels—$2,500 and $10,000—to both undergraduate and graduate students. Although the application has closed for this year, check Annie's website in fall 2012 for the next scholarship cycle.

[See why college scholarships are essential.]

Janine Fugate joined Scholarship America in 2002. She is an alumna of the College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minn., and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Fugate is the recipient of numerous scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate level.