Dairy scholarships awarded to two Pennsylvania students

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Isaac Dechow
Isaac Dechow. (Submitted photo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Adria Russell, of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania and Isaac Dechow, of Centre County, Pennsylvania were recently awarded scholarships through the Dairy Excellence Foundation’s Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow Program.

The students were recognized with the scholarships after completing and passing at least one of the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow certification exams and associated coursework during their high school careers. As college freshmen for the 2023-24 school year, both Russell and Dechow received a $3,000 scholarship to support their academic studies in dairy-related fields.

Russell is a freshman studying animal science at Pennsylvania State University. With both sets of her grandparents owning dairy farms, she developed an interest in animals and agriculture growing up in Huntingdon County. She began by showing Holstein dairy cattle in 4-H and FFA at her local fairs and moved on to regional, state-based and national shows over time.

Throughout her high school career, Russell also held various leadership roles including the Commanding Officer of the Juniata Valley Marching Band and Regional 4-H Camp Counselor. Through the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program, she attended several hands-on Exploration Experiences where she discovered she enjoyed working in a lab setting instead of directly on the farm. This ignited her interest in the genetics side of the dairy industry. Adria’s goal is to become an IVF embryologist and push dairy breeds to the next level.

Dechow is a freshman studying pharmacology and toxicology in the college of agriculture at Pennsylvania State University. Dechow spent time on his grandfather’s dairy farm where he trains cows and leads them at the county fair. He also owns a herd of dairy goats that he milks and breeds.

As FFA President and Senior Class President, Dechow gained experience with forming leadership teams, public speaking and marketing and selling chapter products for FFA. The Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow Program helped Isaac gain a better understanding of the decisions farmers make on a day-to-day basis and how the body systems of a cow work. His goal after college is to work as a toxicologist in an animal-related field to ensure dairy or other farm-related products are safe for consumption.

The Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow program is managed by the Dairy Excellence Foundation and impacts more than 25,000 high school students each school year. The goal of the program is to prepare high school students to work in the dairy industry through classroom instruction, independent studies and virtual learning, on-farm experiences and scholarship opportunities.

To qualify for the scholarship, students must be enrolled in a college or university beginning in the fall following their graduation from high school. This year’s recipients were selected based on their academic performance, evidence of leadership, character and integrity and their commitment to pursuing a future career in dairy. To learn more about the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow scholarship program, visit www.dairyleadersoftomorrow.com or contact Michelle Shearer at mshearer@centerfordairyexcellence.org or 570-768-8316. The 2024 scholarship application will be available on March 1.

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