Aspiring farmers, apply here now!

We created the annual Source Awards four years ago, part and parcel of the then-new Source in the Maine Sunday Telegram, a weekly section dedicated to sustainability in Maine in all its many forms, encompassing conservation, farming, energy efficiency, climate change, gardening, healthy fisheries, green transportation and (much) more. Integral to our Source Awards program was – and is – the Russell Libby Agricultural Scholar Awards. Three such scholarships, for $1,500 each, are awarded each year.

The awards are named for the late, beloved Russell Libby, who led the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) for 17 years before his untimely death. His ideas were integral to the development of MOFGA’s organic training programs, and training is at the heart of these eponymous awards. Though the Source Awards deadline for this year has passed, you still have time to put in an application for the Libby awards; that deadline is March 1.

One scholarship goes to a participant in MOFGA’s Journeyperson Program, which provides training and mentorship for those who are deeply committed to pursuing careers in Maine in organic farming. Another goes to a Maine high school senior who plans to study sustainable or organic farming. Preference is given to a student who intends to continue his or her education in Maine. The third scholarship is awarded to a Kennebec Valley Community College student who is learning sustainable agriculture.

The scholarship money can be used in a variety of ways, among them to buy books or other supplies related to farming, to attend a farm-related conference or sign up for a class, to visit a faraway farm that is pioneering the techniques the awardee hopes to implement at her own farm one day.

The judges will also consider an applicant’s community involvement. Anna Libby, Russell Libby’s eldest daughter and the administrator of the awards, said her father had a deep commitment “to being engaged in your community’s well-being, so the hope was to have the winners of the scholarship also be folks who hold that belief.”

Reading the nominations is “always a real treat,” she added. “There are so many people doing inspiring things, and it’s always cool to read about their aspirations. I love to hear their stories about how they became involved in agriculture, what the spark was that set them on that path, and the things they are doing now that they are passionate about.”

Winners will be announced at the Fourth Annual Source Awards ceremony at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester on April 4.

PEGGY GRODINSKY

Source Editor

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