My name is Josie Hamilton and I grew up on a ranch in Northern California. This past August, I was the recipient of a Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship, which helped support my studies in Agribusiness at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. I grew up in a small town called Rio Vista, CA and I am the fifth generation to live on my family’s farm. We raise cattle and sheep and dryland farm (non-irrigated cultivation of crops). My family partnered with Niman Ranch in 1996 and has been raising lambs for the company ever since.
Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation Scholarship recipient, Abigail Hansen, is a proud farm kid. She grew up helping raise cattle and hogs and cultivating the land for alfalfa, corn and soybeans, alongside her parents, Niman Ranch farmers. Abigail credits her farm upbringing with teaching her the values of hard work and responsibility, which are proving useful as she pursues a degree in agronomy and environmental science.
Abigail is a recipient of the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation Scholarship to support her studies. The Foundation was started in 2006 with just one scholarship and over the past 11 years, thanks to our generous donors, has dispersed almost $500,000 to the children of Niman Ranch farmers and ranchers who are committed to furthering their education to support sustainable agriculture and rural communities.
Learn more about Abigail’s roots and aspirations in the five questions below:
The following blog was written by Jaclynn Knutson, Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation scholarship recipient. Jaclynn’s family has been raising hogs for Niman Ranch her entire life. You can learn more about Jaclynn here.
Last month, I traveled to Panera Bread’s annual corporate and franchisee conference in Orlando, FL. At this conference, Ashley DiBlasi, Niman Ranch’s Senior Marketing Director, and I spoke with Panera Bread employees about what makes Niman Ranch so special and provided a face to our brand.read more
Last month, Shake Shack held its annual Leadership Retreat for their employees near Albany, New York at Lake George. Niman Ranch was invited to attend to present a workshop to promote awareness about humane animal care and traditional farming methods. With Shake Shack using only Niman Ranch bacon, it was important for them to share where it is coming from with their employees.
I traveled to Sarasota, Florida a couple of months ago to assist in promoting the Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship Fund at Mattison’s Scholarship Dinner. During this visit, I enjoyed speaking to all those that attended the wonderful dinner held at Mattison’s. I enjoyed entertaining questions about Niman Ranch and my family’s seventh-generation farm during the social hour. Questions ranged from why my family supports Niman Ranch to how the scholarship fund has impacted my life to the process of raising our pigs.
NORTHGLENN, CO (September 28, 2017) — Niman Ranch, a national leader in sustainable agriculture and humane livestock practices, awarded 32 scholarships totaling $106,000 through its annual Next Generation Scholarship Fund. Scholarships were presented to students from Niman Ranch’s network of independent farm families during its 19th annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, IA. with more than 600 people in attendance. The scholarships are designed to raise awareness around the loss of traditional farming and ranching practices, and to ultimately help maintain agriculture opportunities by providing funding for college. The money raised for the fund far exceeded all other years.
At our annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, we present the Honorary Farmer of the Year award. This recognition is given to a Niman Ranch customer – whether it be a meat distributor, grocer or restaurant – that shows outstanding commitment to the Niman Ranch farming community. They go above and beyond being a customer to embody the true meaning of partnership in their actions towards promoting sustainable, humane agriculture.
This year, we honored a long-time friend of ours, Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, Colorado. Owners Pete, Barbara and Paul Marczyk have increased their commitment to our Next Generation Scholarship Fund through private dinners at their home, having customers “round up” at the register, selling special items at their deli, and our favorite event of the year: Marczyk’s Burger Night. The Fund is set up to give our farmers’ children a better chance of returning to the land by curbing school loan debt. This ultimately preserves traditional farming practices and promotes the advancement of the next generation of farmers.
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.
It all started eight years ago at the 9th annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner. The first Next Generation Scholarship was given to a few children of our farmers with the intent of helping them pay for college so they could return to the farm. In its first year, the scholarship totaled $6,000.
Today, the Next Generation Scholarship has grown to support 23 students with over $85,000 in funds for college – an amount that wouldn’t be possible without the support of chefs who work hard to raise money across the country. This includes chefs like Gio Osso of Nico Heirloom Kitchen and Virtu Honest Craft in the greater Phoenix area.
According to the latest USDA Census of Agriculture, farmers over the age of 65 outnumber farmers under the age of 35 by a ratio of 6-to-1. While the average age of a Niman Ranch farmer is 48 years old, the average age in America sits at 58 years. What opportunities exist to grow the number of young farmers nationally?
Because of a host of barriers not faced by previous generations, many young farmers are unable to start their own farm or take over the family business. We’ve seen issues range from skyrocketing land prices and student loan debt to difficulty taking out reasonable loans or finding reliable work. Inheriting land isn’t enough to allow for a farm to thrive financially these days, and with more than one child in many farm families, most of those who vie to take over have to find their own land regardless.