As Delaware Valley University students, Sarah Hayes and Mikayla Barnhart are preparing for agricultural careers both on the farm and in the classroom.
The two students received scholarships to support their aspirations on April 22 at A-Day, the school’s Activities Day fair.
Hayes, a freshman ag business major from Elizabethtown, is the first recipient of the Agricultural Scholarship created by The Steinman Foundation and Lancaster Farming.
The scholarship is worth $25,000 spread out over Hayes’ four years at the university in Doylestown, which is in Philadelphia’s northern suburbs.
The scholarship is designed to support college students from Lancaster County pursuing agricultural studies who will return to the county to work in agriculture after graduation.
The Steinman Foundation is a charitable organization established by the Steinman family, which owns the parent company of Lancaster County Weeklies Inc., which owns Lancaster Farming and The Elizabethtown Advocate.
“These are the checks that I love to write,” said Bill Burgess, president and publisher of Lancaster County Weeklies.
Hayes, the daughter of Maria and Herb Hayes, plans to work as a field rep for a feed company.
“I want to be the person that goes to the farms and sees how the products are working and then takes that information back to the business to better the products for the animals’ health,” she said.
As an ag business major, Hayes will have more marketing and finance classes, and fewer science courses than animal science majors, but she will still get plenty of hands-on experience with animals.
“I like that about DelVal,” she said.
Hayes grew up showing horses and working on nearby farms. She is on DelVal’s Western equestrian team.
Barnhart, an ag education major from Mercersburg, received the $3,000 Agriculture, Equine Research & Collaboration Center Scholarship from Lancaster Farming.
Barnhart’s ag teacher at James Buchanan High School, Herb Hoffeditz, sparked her interest in teaching.
“It’s just really fun to me and it comes naturally,” she said.
Barnhart, a sophomore, has visited several local schools and has taught her first class. She’s looking forward to getting more classroom experience in the next two years.
The daughter of Chad and Kimberly Barnhart, she has experience with beef and dairy cattle, and chickens.
Barnhart’s high school ag classes included a lot of online resources to supplement the textbooks.
The students talked about Lancaster Farming news articles in class, and Barnhart sometimes cited the paper in essays.
Barnhart wants to instill that media savvy in her students by teaching them how to use agricultural news sources and encouraging them to access the newspaper on their phones.
“You know they’re going to have them anyway,” Barnhart said.
She also wants to use news stories to fuel discussion on hot-button agricultural issues.
Her high school classes held debates on topics like organic versus conventional farming to learn both sides of the argument.
“Those are really controversial issues that students need to be able to make an opinion about in agriculture,” Barnhart said.
Philip Gruber works for Lancaster Farming, a sister publication to The Elizabethtown Advocate.