Over the last 30 years, the average age of farmers has steadily increased to 58-years old, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that half of all current farmers are likely to retire in the next decade, leaving a large gap for the next generation to fill. This makes it incredibly important that we work to persuade our children and grandchildren not to leave the family farm. This is why we created the Next Generation Scholarship Fund, which awards over 20 students from farm families every year with funds to help pay for college.
This fund is designed to raise awareness to 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 or other family 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!
Through the generosity of the following donors, winners received a record $50,000 in scholarship dollars this year:
This year’s winner of the $7000 David Serfling Niman Ranch Memorial Scholarship is Dane Kruse: “It wasn’t really about the money when it came to applying for the scholarship, it was more about the pride and honor of receiving this award in the first place. I see this as a sign from God telling me, ‘You are meant to be a farmer,’ and as I go through school, I am reminded every day of how my farming career will prosper. I can’t wait to graduate and farm with my dad and grandpa, and I can’t wait to raise more Niman Ranch hogs on a bigger scale!”
Dane is attending Northwest Missouri State University with a major in Agricultural Science. His parents, Jeff and Carol Kruse, have been Niman Ranch farmers for 13 years. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Dane plans to return to the family farm to raise hogs for Niman Ranch and expand their row crop and hog operation.
Congratulations to all our inspiring scholarship winners:
Landon Curtis Brown
Melissa Ann Gerken
Brandon Joseph Goellner
Jessica Jean Heiserman
Kelsey Christine Kruse
Grand Edward MareanSara G. Miles
Katelyn Marie Osterman
Mollie Kay Osterman
Brent Wayne Parker
Hunter Matthew Pieken
Lori Ann Roseland
Joel Bridger Schultz
Noah Timothy Taylor
Hannah Royce Taylor
Summer Bryant Worthington
We’re honored to support such dedicated students as they find their way back to the land. There is nothing more important to the Niman Ranch team than carrying sustainable farming traditions to the next generation.