For the last eight years, our grocer and meat distributor customers across the country have raised money for the Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship Fund. Awards are given at our annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner, which celebrates our family farmers with a delicious meal prepared by top chefs from across the country.
This fund is designed to raise awareness around the loss of traditional farming and ranching practices, and to ultimately help maintain this way of life. Our goal is to help give the children and family members of Niman Ranch farmers a better opportunity to return to the farm by helping pay for some of their education. Initiatives like this within the Niman Ranch farm community contribute to keeping the average age of our farmers at 47-years old, which is more than ten years below the national average!
Some contributors work with chefs to host a special event as a fundraiser, some round up at the register, sell a special item at the grab-and-go counter or host a special grill out for local families to enjoy. You’ll often find a former scholarship winner at these events eager to talk about their experience raising hogs sustainably and humanely for Niman Ranch.
We had 24 contributors raise over $85,000 this year – the most they’ve ever raised – which includes four events that brought multiple chefs and community members together to raise money. We express a deep amount of gratitude for their efforts to help support the next generation of farmers in America:
Bob & Heather Whirley, The Shine Diner
Chipotle Mexican Grill
DeBragga & Spitler Inc.
Chef Gio Osso of Nico Heirloom Kitchen and friends
Halperns’ Purveryors of Steak & Seafood
Chef Jason Cline of The Birchwood
Chef Jeffrey Hileman, The FarmTable Kitchen
Lone Star Foodservice
Marczyk Fine Foods
Natco Food Service
This year’s winner of the David Serfling Niman Ranch Memorial Scholarship is Jaclynn Knutson: “Thank you to all employees, producers, distributors and consumers for making the Niman way possible. After attending the 17th Annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner, I now understand the importance of support around the entire agricultural industry. I am very honored to receive this award and am excited to use my college experience to advance the pork industry.”
Jaclynn is the daughter of Jason and Alicia Knutson of Centerville, South Dakota. They’ve been raising hogs for Niman Ranch since 1998, just three years after our hog program was established. Jaclynn believes the world needs young farmers to continue the tradition of American agriculture. She has personal interest in multi-species livestock farming and crop diversity.
Jaclynn is currently seeking a double major at South Dakota State University in Animal and Agricultural Sciences, with minors in Ag Business, Marketing and Agronomy. She was Chapter President of the Viborg-Hurley FFA Chapter in High School, earning several accolades while participating as speaker, judge and historian through both FFA and other school- and farming-related activities. We’re proud to have motivated students like Jaclynn pursuing a career in agriculture.
Congratulations to all of our scholarship winners. We wish them the best over the 2016-2017 school year:
Abigail HansenAllison Harvey
Mollie OstermanBrent Parker