The future of agriculture depends on the level of commitment from today’s young people. And, based on the level of enthusiasm seen among today’s students at Texas Tech University, the future has never looked brighter.
That’s why the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association has steadfastly supported the university’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources with annual scholarship awards, with the bulk of the money provided by Cotton Farming magazine. The individual awards usually amount to $1,000 and are given to deserving ag students.
A portion of the advertising revenue from the TCGA printed program is donated to the scholarship program. For the last two years, the magazine has presented a check for more than $5,000. This year’s check will be presented on Friday night, April 5 at the TCGA awards banquet at the Overton Hotel in Lubbock.
“It’s an investment in the future of agriculture,” says TCGA Executive Vice President Tony Williams. “Our young ag students need all the support we can give to them. These scholarship awards hopefully will help ease the financial burden that they bear while attending college.”
Texas Tech officials echo those comments. Jane Piercy, director of development and external relations for the university’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, says ag students benefit tremendously from the support they receive from industry organizations such as TCGA.
“Until you’ve met some of these students, you can’t understand their dedication to agriculture,” she says. “They appreciate any kind of help you can offer to them.”
Four of the award winners were particularly grateful for the financial assistance as they near the day when they’ll graduate and pursue their own career dreams.
“I have two brothers who also are at Tech and another who graduated from Texas A&M, so I know my family appreciates the assistance from this scholarship,” says Jaclyn Roberts, a senior ag communications major from nearby Brownfield.
“My father works for Netafim Irrigation, and I’d like to pursue some kind of international marketing career. I worked for Netafim last summer in California, and it really opened my eyes on that kind of career.”
Laney Bateman, a senior horticulture and turf grass science major from New Braunfels, attended junior college before moving to Texas Tech. She doesn’t have a direct connection to cotton but hopes to own a wine vineyard someday or become involved in wine marketing.
“I am connected to agriculture because of my FFA experiences,” she says. “And I am really thankful that TCGA awarded this scholarship to me. I have an even greater appreciation for cotton now.”
Another scholarship winner – Makenzy Stanton of Abernathy – is a senior animal science major and recently married a young cotton farmer. Prior to meeting her husband Bryan, she had grown up in a family where her parents were both educators. However, all of her neighbors were involved in cotton.
“I would say being married to a young cotton farmer definitely has made me appreciate cotton even more,” she says.
Perhaps one of the more unusual situations involving a scholarship winner is that of Shelby McCollum, a senior ag communications major from Krum, just north of Fort Worth. She has a twin sister Sydney, who is also a student at Texas Tech. Shelby says that any scholarship assistance she receives will also help her sister.
“I can assure you that my parents will be very appreciative of this because they have two children who are in college at the same time,” says Shelby.
Other students who were awarded TCGA scholarships were: Blaze Cogdell, junior, Tulia; Kellye Gonzales, senior, Anson; Amber Halfmann, junior, Garden City; Brian Hirt, junior, Garden City; Chancy Price, senior, Turkey; Sloan Smith, junior, Lubbock; Chandler Stoner, sophomore, Hondo; and Garrison Williams, senior, Roscoe.