To the Targeting Excellence Sponsors, Board, and Committees, thank you for devoting all of your time, resources, and expertise into supporting the youth who comprise the future of agriculture. By providing the Targeting Excellence scholarship, the sponsors, board and committee lighten the financial burden of agricultural college students and allows for greater focus on agricultural coursework, research, and other related experiences to better the agricultural industry as a whole. You generosity is unmatched and I am incredibly grateful.
In the pursuit of finding sustainable agriculture practices that will allow for the feeding of over nine billion people by the year 2050, all while providing for their own lifestyles and families, America’s agricultural producers have their hands full of tasks needing to be done. One of those many tasks is the acquisition of new or updated equipment, more acreage of land, better facilities, and other investments to improve the yield, efficiency, and profitability of their farms and businesses. Though necessary, many producers delay the process due to the lack of funds or guidance. At the Pennsylvania State University, I am majoring in animal science, business and management with a minor in agribusiness management. With this training and education, I will enter a profession where my priority lies in securing and disseminating resources to agricultural producers so they understand their available options and can advance their businesses, while also serving as a producer myself. From my own experiences raising livestock, I understand the financial obligations associated with such endeavors. I strive to adopt more sustainable practices with my seventy head of registered sheep to increase profitability. In doing so, I have utilized government programs as well as private grant programs to subsidize the improvement of my operation. In the future, I plan to participate in programs such as the Ag Choice Farm Credit new and beginning farmer program to receive a lower interest rate on a loan to purchase my grandfather’s second farm. It is on this farm that I will combine my foundation of knowledge learned from years in the 4-H and FFA with the practical skills and expansion of animal science concepts I have studied in college to continue raising my flock of sheep. The goal is to double my flock and begin my own cooperative in Fulton and Huntingdon Counties, Pennsylvania, where lambs can be sold wholesale to a niche market. This goal, however, is only a secondary source of income. All of this experience and preparation has only solidified my goal of working for the Farm Service Agency. There are numerous programs and resources available for all types of agriculture, including programs for new and beginning farmers as well as the experienced agriculturist. Having personally benefitted from the resources and programs provided by the agency, I am confident I can receive further targeted training to bring exposure to these resources in small rural areas, such as the one I grew up in, where producers attempting to make ends meet are unaware these resources and programs exist. My college experience has continued to add value to my production agriculture knowledge as well as allowed me to hone my leadership abilities. Upon graduation from Penn State, I hope to obtain an entry level position, such as the program technician. As the agency allows, I plan to move into the position of Agriculture Program Specialist to broaden my reach to agricultural producers in my coverage area and beyond.