Black Dirt scholars
PINE ISLAND. Chamber awards three $1,500 scholarships to students who demonstrate a commitment to and involvement in their community.

Pictured from left to right are: Black Dirt Scholar Ava Ghobadian, Sondra Hall, Black Dirt Scholarship founder and co-chair, and Black Dirt Scholar Sophia Citarella.

The Pine Island Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 2019 Black Dirt Scholarship award winners.
The Black Dirt Scholarship Fund awards three annual scholarships of $1,500 each to students who have demonstrated a commitment to and involvement in community volunteer service or community work experience.
Each winner also receives two tickets to the Black Dirt Feast to be held on Aug. 6 where they will each speak about their education and career plans.
Ava Ghobadian
During the annual senior awards night held at Warwick Valley High School, Ava Ghobadian was awarded for Environmental Microbiology.
In her application essay Ghobadian wrote:
“As humans we are afraid of failing simply because we do not know how to recover from the aftermath. Those who do not try, by definition never fail; it is OK to fail as long as you learn quickly and do not make the same mistake twice.”
She will be entering Cornell University in a biological science curriculum in September.
Sophia Citarella
Meanwhile, Sophia Citarella was awarded for Culinary Arts and will be studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
She said she believes that she “can contribute to society by becoming a personal chef focused on providing meals for people with unusual dietary restrictions."
Eric Bodeker
At John S. Burke Catholic High School Baccalaureate Awards Dinner, Eric Bodeker was awarded for Physical Therapy.
He will be attending Sacred Heart University.
“While playing multiple sports, I eventually suffered physical injuries,” he wrote, “that would take me out of my season for a period of time. As I learned recovery methods, I began to understand how I could help others by going into the health profession.”
The Black Dirt Scholarship is funded with a portion of the proceeds from the Black Dirt Feast. The feast was conceived as a way to showcase some of the top chefs in the region and the farms who provide the produce that they use.
The event’s objective is to bring the entire community together to celebrate the beauty and bounty of the Black Dirt Region.
Founded in 1961, the mission of the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce is to promote prosperity in the business community, support and enhance the uniqueness of the region, and to enrich the lives of all residents through community spirit and cooperation.