The Sustainable Agriculture & Forestry Scholarship Endowment Fund

Information about the Scholarship

Who will feed and house future generations?

Recent newspaper headlines are painting a disturbing picture of our future, for example:

1.     The past few decades of farm economics have created a system in which one-third of the food on our plate now relies on just one pollinator — the honeybee. And it’s dying.

2.     Nitrogen contamination in the southern half of Minnesota is so severe that 27 percent of the state’s lakes and rivers could not be used as drinking water.

3.     Safe, clean drinking water eludes many Wisconsinites.

4.     Pollinators were all extinguished in a large apple growing Chinese province because of overuse of agricultural chemicals. They have pollinated their apple crop manually since the mid 1980s!

To quote Karl Foord, UMN Extension: “Hand pollination of fruit crops is about as unsustainable as a system can get. The fact that it exists anywhere sends me a strong signal to be extremely vigilant about land management, pollinator habitat, and pesticide use to avoid such an outcome in our fruit production systems.”

So—Who will feed and house future generations?

The answer to this question is large, but one thing is for certain: It will take professionals and practitioners educated and trained in sustainable (see definition below) agriculture (food production) and forestry (wood production) in order to sustain a healthy population. To this end a group of concerned individuals have come together to establish the Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry Scholarship Fund, a perpetual endowment fund.

The mission of this Scholarship fund is to provide financial aid to individuals committed to sustainability in the fields of agriculture and forestry.

The Fund will serve individuals at college junior standing and above or nontraditional students studying sustainable forestry or agriculture originally from Southeast Minnesota counties of Rice, Goodhue, Wabasha, Steele, Dodge, Olmsted, Winona, Freeborn, Mower, Fillmore, and Houston and who will attend educational institutions programs in the five state area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.

The Fund is endowed, and will operate in perpetuity.

Who Manages the Fund?

The Rochester Area Foundation (RAF) is the home of The Fund. RAF is a non profit Minnesota corporation exempt from taxation under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). The Scholarship Founding Contributors are Deirdre Flesche and Dag Knudsen of rural Lake City, Minnesota, and Rollin Geppert who grew up on a farm in the Lake City area.

Additional supporting contributions that enabled the establishment of the Scholarship Fund came from area dairy and beef farmers, urban dwellers, naturalists, and retired folks.

The scholarship program is meant to be a core program supported by educational and informational activities in Southeast Minnesota such as newsletters, conference(s), presentations to interested organizations of all kinds, and additional fund raising activities.

This year’s invitation has been published to a variety of colleges and associations involved in agriculture and forestry.

Two scholarships were awarded for the 2016/2017 school year and one for the 2017-2018 school year. Details on the Awardees page.