Background Information About Rotary East Ag Scholarship
First and foremost, one of the pillars of Rotary International is Education. Supporting education and youth development is an investment for the future that can benefit our children and grandchildren. Rotary Clubs are encouraged to develop community projects that will stimulate broad engagement from Rotary members and community sponsors. The majority of our Club membership has a strong and direct connection to agriculture as farmers, agricultural scientists, ag-business owners or business owners who benefit from the growing agri-business community.
During the recent economic downturn in Alberta’s energy sector many of us continued to enjoy a relatively stable economy in southern Alberta thanks to a thriving agriculture sector that included new and expanding food processing industries. We thought one way to help promote agriculture in southern Alberta would be to offer a significant $10,000 scholarship to a local worthy undergraduate student interested in pursuing a career in Agriculture. We had no way of knowing whether there would be any interest from potential candidates or whether local agri-business would support or sponsor this endeavour. Thanks to the efforts and commitment from our Club, the Lethbridge and District Exhibition and local industry partners we hosted a successful Ag Scholarship Banquet in conjunction with Ag Expo and awarded our first $10,000 Ag Scholarship to Lauren Machacek in February of 2019.
In spite of COVID-19 we were able to award two $10,000 Ag Scholarships in 2020 and 2021, and three Ag Scholarships in 2022 and 2023 thanks to the generous support from the local ag business community and friends of Rotary. This level of support ($110,000) over the last five years is a testament to the community’s commitment to invest in the education and professional development of local students pursuing a career in agriculture.
Since initiating this Ag Scholarship program, the Lethbridge College has developed an accredited Bachelor’s Degree program in Agriculture and the University of Lethbridge continues to have a strong Ag Business program in conjunction with the Dhillon School of Business. All of our Ag Scholar recipients attended the Lethbridge College and/or the University of Lethbridge. Two of our Ag Scholars are now pursuing graduate degrees at the University of Alberta or the University of Guelph.
The continued public and private investment in Canada’s Premier Food Corridor in southern Alberta in excess of one billion dollars over the last 5 years supports our small but important contribution to the future economy of southern Alberta.