There are parts of a job that make you feel like you can make a difference. Working with the Colorado Garden Show is one of those examples. I wish every day I could feel as amazing about what I do in public relations. On Wednesday, Carissa and I attended the Colorado Garden Show board meeting to interview two student candidates for scholarships to Colorado State University (CSU). These are not your typical high school seniors. Their activities, grades and background on their farms make us city folk look like couch potatoes. Or at least gave me a little guilt for sleeping in late and arriving at the office by 9 a.m.
Ashton Dilka of Briggsdale, Colo. showed up in her letter jacket with her parents and spoke about getting up at 4 a.m. to feed livestock before heading to school all day. She plays four varsity sports. She raises swine (pigs), has moved miles of irrigation pipes and pulled millions of rye weed from the wheat fields. Can you imagine? And she probably weighs 110 lbs. soaking wet. Ashton graduates from Briggsdale High School this May. In addition to farming she has participated in countless extracurricular activities and organizations including Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) National Honor Society and Future Farmers of America (FFA).
After asking her questions about her career aspirations and why she wanted to attend CSU the board took a brief break. It was unanimous. She was called back into the boardroom with her parents and told she had been awarded the Colorado Garden Show’s four-year, full-ride scholarship to Colorado State University to study agricultural education and business. In addition to paid tuition, room and board, she will receive a laptop with a printer and all expenses will be paid for her books and fees. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
“The only obstacle standing in the way of my educational aspirations was my lack of financial funding to help with the major expense of college. Without the help of the Colorado Garden Show’s full-ride scholarship, my dream of continuing my education would have been next to impossible,” said Ashton.
Her proud parents could not help but express their gratitude and excitement. “We live on a small family farm and this scholarship takes a lot of stress off of our family,” said James Dilka, her father. “A college education will help give Ashton a better path in life and will help her not struggle so hard to get there.”
Ashton hopes to someday become an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor to help teach others with the same passion for agriculture. “It’s not about the money. It’s about the rewards,” she adds. “I look forward to the day when I can make a difference in this changing industry.”
Colorado Garden Show also awarded a two-year scholarship for tuition, books and fees to Rachel Hornung of Stratton, Colo. to attend CSU. Rachel graduated from Stratton High School in May of 2007 as valedictorian and has served the past year as the Colorado FFA vice president visiting more than 25 agricultural programs throughout the state. Rachel impressed the board by remembering almost everyone’s names and for handling questions better than a political candidate in a press conference.
She looks forward to attending CSU this fall and will major in agricultural education. “I have a fondness for agriculture and serving as a State FFA Officer has added to that passion. This year I have learned more about the incredibly different aspects of agriculture from horticulture to cattle production to agricultural business to agronomy. Only 1 percent of Colorado’s population is directly involved in production agriculture, yet there are more than 350 different careers in the field including science, business and technology fields. Because of this I know I will have a great career in agricultural education,” Rachel said.
But that’s not all! Proceeds for the Annual Colorado Garden & Home Show, about $8 of every $12 ticket, go toward grants and scholarships. More than $500,000 will be given out this year. Additional Colorado Garden Show college scholarships for the 2008 – 2009 school year include:
Jamie Petersen of Denver received a one-year scholarship to cover tuition, books and fees in the Horticulture and Landscape Technologies program at Front Range Community College.
Ruchika Agrawal of Aurora, Colo. was awarded the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentoring Scholarship toward tuition each year for four years of college. She will attend Community College of Denver next fall.
Teri Howlett of Windsor, Colo. was awarded a graduate scholarship of tuition, books and fees for one year at CSU towards her Ph.D. in horticulture.
Jessica Jo Johnson of Greeley, Colo. was awarded a scholarship for tuition, books and fees for one year at CSU towards her degree in agriculture business and agricultural education.
Heidi Moss of Ft. Collins, Colo. received a scholarship toward her degree in landscape horticulture focusing on design and contracting at CSU.
Chandi Aldena of Denver received an endowment scholarship toward her degree in landscape architecture at CSU.
Congratulations to all the students! My week is complete. It just doesn’t get any better than this…