Young Grower Scholarship Sponsor
By Rick Dungey, Executive Director, International Fruit Tree Association
The International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) Membership Committee was convinced the best path to membership growth was through engaging and communicating with next generation growers in the tree fruit industry. They wanted to implement a program that supported and encouraged attendance at IFTA’s conferences and educational tours by the next generation of orchardists. So AMR staff helped them implement a “scholarship” program for young growers.
In 2013 the first Young Grower Scholarships were awarded for the IFTA Study Tour in Gettysburg, PA. It was a great success, and the IFTA Board committed to continuing this program at future IFTA events.
Young Grower Scholarship program applicants are asked to submit an outline of their vocational aspirations in the area of tree fruit production. They must also provide a short description of how their participation in this event will help them professionally and provide opportunities to contribute to their goals in the industry. Applications are reviewed by a committee of IFTA directors and university extension educators, and a portion of registration and/or travel costs is defrayed for scholarship recipients to attend.
Twenty-one young growers received some level of discount on registration fees in the form of a Young Grower Scholarship at the 2014 IFTA Annual Conference in Kelowna, British Columbia. Thanks to this program—that’s 21 next generation orchardists who could attend their first IFTA conference.
The program is funded by industry sponsors, both corporate and individual. AMR tracks revenue from sponsors, provides all the benefits and recognition to sponsors and uses the funds to offset discounts given to young growers selected by the committee.
To highlight how important this program is to younger growers, we ask some of the recipients to share their experiences, impressions and thoughts about the IFTA Annual Conference and the Young Grower Scholarship program in the August 2014 issue of our Compact Fruit Tree publication (pictured).