Bountiful harvest of scholarship funds offered for Illinois ag students

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(The Center Square) – The deadline is fast approaching for Illinois agriculture students to reach out for more than $192,000 in scholarships offered by the IAA Foundation.

Several new opportunities this year give students a hand with their college costs, but the key to all of this is to meet the Feb. 15 deadline, as Development Manager Jennifer Smith explains.

“My best advice to students is don’t wait until the last minute,” she told The Center Square. “That evening (at 11:59 p.m.), the application will automatically lockdown, and they will no longer be able to submit. So, try not to procrastinate.”

As part of a tradition of offering scholarships that goes back to its 1987 inception, IAA will dole out a total of 110 awards to students on a path to agricultural-related degrees or careers.

Last year, scholarship totals exceeded $1 million, representing a combination of IAA, county and state funds, she said. The website IAAfoundation.org has the facts on more than 30 different scholarships to explore with individual awards up to $7,500.

Smith highlighted the importance of supporting the future farming generations.

“These are the future leaders of agriculture, and it is so important that they stay immersed in their education and start to build their path toward their career and maybe not worry so much about the financial burden being placed on them,” Smith said.

Smith is excited about how these scholarships, including several new opportunities for this year, will boost the state’s talent pool.

“We are constantly impressed and blown away by the talent that exists in our students and the future of agriculture in Illinois,” she said.

It seems that the IAA Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois Farm Bureau, is not the only one so taken by the students and their potential. Among the scholarships on tap are several new additions like the Allen and Ellen M. Blessman Scholarship.

Smith expressed her appreciation to the donors who feel committed enough to agriculture to fuel these funds.

“We are humbled that donors place their confidence in us to carry out their charitable wishes,” she said.

No matter if they’re just starting as freshmen or pursuing their doctorate, students can find an opportunity and see how they qualify at IAAfoundation.org. Just mind the Feb. 15 deadline. When the clock strikes midnight, it will be too late to apply.

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