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:
Q: How did your upbringing on the farm influence your life?
Being raised on a farm made me very responsible. I was in charge of various farm operations growing up, even at a young age. I have a few of my own cattle and hogs that I was responsible for feeding, breeding decisions, and other various tasks that pertained to the livestock. I also owned our entire small herd of sheep and oversaw the genetics, managed lambing, decided how to market the lamb, and took care of all the animals’ needs. I learned on the farm that you don’t stop until all the work is done. This is something that I have taken with me throughout my entire life and career. I also learned how important family is. It would be impossible to operate a farm if you didn’t have a network of people. For us, it was always our family. We rely on each other for so many things. We all have different strengths that balance each other out.
Q: What is one thing you wish all people knew about farming?
I wish that people knew how much we love our land and our animals. I think there are many misconceptions about farmers and farm families. In truth, we care about the land and want to improve it to the best of our abilities and we care deeply about our livestock. We invest so much time into making sure our livestock are well taken care of and in the best conditions that they can be.
Q: What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I have always loved the land and learning about it. When I went to college and was exposed to the issue of soil and water quality I knew that was the type of career I wanted to go into. I also wanted to be able to directly help farmers improve their land. Within my agronomy major I am focusing on soil science and environmental quality and I added a double major in environmental science to further develop my expertise. My goal is to pair my farm background with my knowledge that I have gained from school to educate farmers in ways to better their soil.
Q: How has the Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship brought you closer to achieve your goals?
Being a Niman Ranch Scholarship recipient, I am able to pursue my education without needing to work as many hours and can study and do research without the fear of financing my education. I am also able to pursue other opportunities at my college like studying abroad. I have been able to travel to Costa Rica to study their soils and in the fall I will have the opportunity to go to New Zealand to learn about their agricultural systems.
Q: What do you want to say to the Niman Ranch customers and partners who give so generously to the Next Generation Scholarship Foundation? Thank you to everyone for donating money and putting on events to help raise money for the Next Generation Foundation Scholarship. This support allows students like me to pursue an education to further improve the agriculture industry. We are able to go to college and learn more about the industry and bring new ideas back to our farms, improving our operations and bettering the land and animals. This wouldn’t be possible without the support from donors to the Foundation.