LA JUNTA – Kurt Lieberknecht has been named recipient of the Otero Junior College USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Soil and Crop Science full support scholarship. The $40,000 scholarship will pay $10,000 toward tuition and other college expenses per semester for four semesters of study in soil and crop science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
Lieberknecht, a graduate of Fowler High School, comes from family farm stock. “I guess you could say I have an inborn fondness for this industry,” said Lieberknecht. “I have lived on a family-owned farm all of my life and I would not have it any other way.”
After high school, Lieberknecht spent the 2011-2012 year as Future Farmers of America (FFA) State Treasurer. He will complete an Associate of Science degree in soil and crop science at OJC this summer.
Upon graduating from OJC, Lieberknecht plans to complete his Bachelor’s degree in soil and crop sciences with an emphasis in agronomic production management at CSU. While at CSU, Lieberknecht plans to run for a national office in the National Future Farmers of America organization to help promote leadership, personal growth and career success in high school students interested in the field of agriculture.
“Winning this scholarship has ensured that I can go on to pursue my four-year degree,” said Lieberknecht. “I want to continue to network with leaders and students who are unaware of agriculture and don’t fully understand where their food comes from. The field of agriculture accounts for less than two percent of the population, so it is important for us to advocate and educate others about the importance of what we do.”
Lieberknecht aspires to complete his master’s degree in agricultural leadership studies at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He anticipates future employment in a research laboratory developing more efficient and effective irrigational methods for agriculture.
According to Justin Osborne, agricultural sciences instructor at OJC and former Fowler High School FFA advisor, Lieberknecht could not be more deserving of the scholarship. “It has been a personal joy to watch this young man grow and develop into the leader he is today,” said Osborne. “Work in itself is no stranger to Kurt. He leads by example, volunteers his time and efforts, and stays until the job is done. He is one of the hardest working students I have ever had in my program.”
Funding for this one-time scholarship came as a part of the USDA grant that allowed OJC to establish its soil and crop sciences program.
Formal presentation of the scholarship occurred during the Business After Hours at OJC’s Learning Commons on Feb. 14.
For more information on OJC’s agricultural sciences programs, contact Justin Osborne at (719) 384-6964.