SDSU ag economics grad student receives scholarship

Farm Forum

HURON — College isn’t cheap. Expenses could have stopped Melinda Sommer from going on to pursue a master’s degree in Agriculture Economics, but thanks to the $2,500 Farmers Union Foundation Scholarship and a graduate assistantship, the Fairfax, Minn., farm girl can focus on furthering her education and not worry about sinking deeper into debt.

“This scholarship really helps me because I already have four years of college loans to pay back. It allows me to be more focused on my studies and not stress out about part-time jobs,” said Sommer, who is on an accelerated track, and will earn her masters in Agriculture Economics within a year.

The Farmers Union Foundation Scholarship is designed to help retain talent in South Dakota to support South Dakota’s agriculture industry. It is open to students from South Dakota, pursuing a graduate degree in research, animal science, agriculture business or agriculture education at an accredited South Dakota school.

“Education is our future. This scholarship is one way Farmers Union works to help retain highly skilled individuals in South Dakota,” said Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director of South Dakota Farmers Union.

Although she doesn’t know exactly what her future career holds; Sommer is determined to remain involved in the agriculture industry. “I enjoy working on my family’s farm and am looking for opportunities within the agriculture industry,” says Sommer, who grew up working on her family’s crop and livestock farm. “Farm work gave me a strong work ethic and an appreciation for the work that goes into food production.”

Sommer received a bachelor’s of science degree in Agriculture Business/Economics and a minor in Agronomy from South Dakota State University in 2013. To learn more about how Farmers Union supports the future of South Dakota’s agriculture industry, visit