Black Dirt scholars announced


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  • Photos by Peter Lyons Hall Kayla Walter at work at Green Valley Tack in Pine Island.




  • Kieran McShane with Sally and Robert Scheuermann of Scheuermann Farm & Greenhouses, hosts of The Black Dirt Feast.



PINE ISLAND — During the annual senior awards night held at Warwick Valley High School, Kieran McShane was named the recipient of the $1,000 Black Dirt Agricultural Scholarship.

Sondra Hall, co-chair of the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce's scholarship committee, said the Black Dirt scholarships “are all about character and community since the students must also demonstrate a commitment to and involvement in community volunteer service or community work experience.”

McShane had organized an annual clothing drive, Hats, Gloves, and Socks for Tots, for the children of migrant workers working on local farms.

In his accompanying essay, “A successful individual,” he wrote, “is someone who uses his gifts to benefit others.”

He will be pursuing a curriculum of biological engineering at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University.

In a separate presentation, SUNY Ulster student Kayla Walter, who is studying to become a veterinary technician, was awarded a $1,000 Black Dirt Equestrian Scholarship, the first recipient of the newly added category.

Some of Walter's community service includes cemetery maintenance, rescue, recovery and re-homing of animals and providing transportation for elderly neighbors.

In her essay she wrote that “I would consider a successful individual to be someone who is well respected in her/his field of study and who has knowledge that s/he share with others and displays a good attitude toward work.”

The Black Dirt Scholarship is funded with a portion of the proceeds from the Black Dirt Feast. The feast was first conceived of as a way to showcase some of the top chefs in the region and the farms who provide the produce that they use.

The scholarship is awarded to students pursuing a college curriculum in agriculture, equine studies, or culinary arts/hospitality, and who meet the qualifications of the application (http://www.pineislandny.com/black-dirt-scholarship/).


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