BROOKINGS, S.D. — Three South Dakota State University students are recipients of 2018 National Dairy Herd Information Association scholarships from among a total of 22 students nationwide.
Dillon Gratz of Atwater, Minn., Jessica Kerfeld of Melrose, Minn., and Margaret Socha of Corcoran, Minn., each receive a $1,000 scholarship.
Students were chosen based on scholastic achievements, leadership in school and community activities, and responses to DHI- and career-related questions. To be eligible for a National DHIA scholarship, applicants must be a family member or employee of a herd on DHI test, a family member of a DHI employee, or an employee of a DHI affiliate. The DHI affiliate for the herd of affiliate employee must be a National DHIA member.
“Dillon, Jessica and Margaret are outstanding students in the Dairy and Food Science Department, with strong interest and commitment to the dairy industry,” said Dr. Vikram Mistry, SDSU Dairy and Food Science Department head. “As freshmen they have already established their excellence and the DHIA scholarship helps recognize this excellence.”
Dillon Gratz is currently pursuing a degree in dairy production with plans of returning to the family farm and hopefully taking it over one day. His family milks 60 Holsteins and grows corn and soybeans. Gratz’s grandpa, uncle, dad and mom are all involved on the farm. He goes home on the weekends to help as well.
Along with working on the family dairy, Gratz was involved with FFA in high school and was a 2017 National Finalist in dairy proficiency. He also started showing dairy cattle in 4-H in sixth grade and last year began competing in Minnesota Holstein Association shows.
Additionally, during high school Gratz was involved with National Honor Society and played football. On campus, he is currently involved with the Dairy Club and Drone Club.
“It is really rewarding and exciting to receive a national scholarship like this one, and the support is very helpful,” Gratz said.
Jessica Kerfeld is double majoring in dairy production and dairy manufacturing. She grew up on a family dairy farm where they milk 180 Holsteins and do custom field work. Kerfeld’s parents and grandparents played an important role in her becoming involved in the dairy industry, and provided opportunities to help with American Dairy Association events, Breakfast at the Farm and daily chores.
“With my degree, I hope to find a job close to home so I can still be a part of the family farm while also helping others in the agriculture industry,” Kerfeld said.
She is currently involved with the SDSU Dairy Club and 4-H. In high school, she was a part of the National Honor Society, an officer in 4-H, the tennis team captain, and an active member of her youth group.
“Receiving this scholarship is really encouraging to me because I know people out there are supporting my education and it relieves a lot of the stress of paying for college,” Kerfeld said.
Margaret Socha worked at a dairy farm throughout high school and fell in love with the cows and doing chores, which led her to pursue a degree in dairy production.
“I am not totally sure what I plan to do with my degree yet, but I am interested in being a herdsman or a manager at a farm,” Socha said.
She also judged dairy in FFA and is currently serving as a dairy princess for her county at home. At SDSU, she is involved with Dairy Club, Ceres Women’s Fraternity, and a Bible study.
“It is an honor to receive this since it’s a national scholarship and it is nice to receive from people in the industry that I hope to work for someday and to know I have support from them,” Socha said.
National Dairy Herd Information Association, a trade association for the dairy records industry, serves the best interests of its members and the dairy industry by maintaining the integrity of dairy records and advancing dairy information systems.
About the South Dakota State University Dairy and Food Science Department
With expertise in dairy production, dairy manufacturing, and food science, the South Dakota State University Dairy and Food Science Department covers the entire spectrum of the dairy industry; from farm to product. The department is housed in the renovated Alfred Dairy Science Hall, attached to the state-of-the-art Davis Dairy Plant. About a mile north of campus, the South Dakota State University Dairy Research and Training Facility provides the source of milk for well-known SDSU ice cream and cheese products and is home to some 150 milking Holsteins and Brown Swiss cattle. The department boasts 100% job placement for graduates, offers more than $150,000 in scholarships to students and confers bachelors, master’s and doctorate degrees.
— South Dakota State University