Farmers Union scholarship supports plant science researcher

South Dakota Farmers Union
Farm Forum

As a farm kid growing up in rural South Dakota, Chris Nelson would see the challenges brought about by weather and markets. At the time, he could do nothing to help. Now 37, the South Dakota State University research assistant is doing something. He enrolled in graduate classes.

“I feel this is my chance to effect change,” says Nelson, who is pursuing a master of plant science degree with an emphasis in plant breeding at SDSU. “Through education, I have the opportunity to make systems better.”

South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, together with Traveler’s Motor Club, support him in his efforts to work for the future of South Dakota agriculture with a $2,500 graduate school scholarship.

“Educating the next generation is something our organization supports and invests in,” says Doug Sombke, SDFU president. “It’s through research and education that our state’s family farmers and ranchers are able to make informed decisions that lead to increased yields, better livestock genetics and help us in resource stewardship.”

Working as a full-time research assistant to SDSU professor and spring wheat breeder, Karl Glover since 2016, Nelson says there are still aspects of plant genetics he would like to understand better. And since he has worked at the state’s land-grant since 2006, advancing his education only made sense.

“The future of agriculture is challenging. We will have to do things different than they have ever been done before. I see this as my small part to help producers prepare for change with better plant genetics,” Nelson explains.

Nelson understands pursuing a master’s degree while working full time and raising young sons, Rhett and Liam, won’t be easy. But his wife, Michelle, and Professor Glover fully support his decision. The $2,500 Farmers Union scholarship, funded by Traveler’s Motor Club, is a tremendous help. “Not having to figure out how to pay for school this first semester is an enormous weight off my shoulders.”

Helping South Dakotans, like Nelson, advance their knowledge to help other South Dakotans, is the reason Traveler’s Motor Club has sponsored this graduate scholarship for the last 35 years. “We believe in rural America and the farm community. Working with Farmers Union to sponsor this scholarship is one small way to help,” explains Gene Hammond, president and principle owner of Traveler’s Motor Club.

A full-service motor club, Traveler’s Motor Club provides services beyond roadside assistance, like covering the costs of a rental car or providing an income if a member is injured and unable to work following a highway or farm accident. To learn more, visit www.travelorsmotorclub.com.

South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation also awards two-year and four-year scholarships. To learn more about scholarships, as well as the year-round leadership and professional development programming provided by South Dakota Farmers Union, visit www.sdfu.org and click on the education tab.

South Dakota Farmers Union scholarship winner Chris Nelson with his young sons, Rhett and Liam, in the campus greenhouse. South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, together with Traveler’s Motor Club, support Nelson in his efforts to work for the future of South Dakota agriculture with a $2,500 graduate school scholarship.