UNITY — Applications are now open for the 2023 Russell Libby Agricultural Scholar Awards. Each year, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association awards three $1,500 scholarships, one in each of the following categories:
- MOFGA Journeyperson program participant (past or present).
- Maine high school senior planning to study sustainable or organic farming (with a preference for colleges in Maine).
- Teacher, school or education center looking to support an agricultural related project in Maine, such as a campus garden, classroom project or a guest lecturer.
Awards are granted to honor the late Russell Libby, who led MOFGA for 17 years and dedicated his life to growing the organic food movement. Recognizing, more than 20 years ago, that Maine’s farming population was aging and dwindling, Libby advocated for focusing significant MOFGA program resources on training the next generation of farmers. Through his vision, MOFGA has been instrumental in shifting the demographics of Maine’s farming population. Now Maine is one of the leading U.S. states for creating successful new farmers.
“Each spring when I read these applications, I feel hopeful and optimistic as I read the stories, dreams and plans shared within them,” Anna Libby, MOFGA community education director, said in a press release. “It is our hope that these scholarships will help support and inspire future growers and farmers.”
These scholarships support the recipients in their pursuits of agriculture education and projects. Funds have been used for schooling, infrastructure that improves access to programs, new gardens and much more, the press release said. Lindsey Schortz, last year’s educator award recipient, used the funds toward building a composting system for the garden at the Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education (a high school program that serves at-risk students).
“The scholarship has enabled me and my students here at BCOPE to take risks as we build our composting program,” Schortz said in the press release. “Our first project with the funds was completed in December, a student-designed and student-built compost bin which two different classes worked on.
“We have several other ideas that we are researching and exploring at this time, and having the funds to purchase books, technology and additional materials, not to mention the excitement of being a recipient of the Russell Libby Scholarship as a motivator, has been invaluable. I am very appreciative.”
Applications are due March 31. Visit mofga.org for more information and to apply.