Eligible applicants will come from a background of family dairy farming with an intent to continue in the field. The universities - Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences - were chosen based on their agriculture programs as well as their close proximity to Chobani facilities.
Eight students per university will be awarded the scholarship, beginning in fall 2019. They will receive $5,000 toward tuition per year for four years, with a total package amount of $160,000 per school.
Recipients will also be given the opportunity to intern with Chobani during their college career. The details of that program will be developed over time and with the first few classes of students.
Michael Gonda, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Chobani, expressed the Chobani Foundation’s desire to invest in a strong pipeline of dairy farmers for the future to help mitigate a struggling industry.
“This is a new program and approach for us where we’re really looking at supporting the next generation of dairy farmers at a time when that need is so critical,” Gonda told DairyReporter.
According to the company, milk prices have been ‘extremely low’ for the last four years, resulting in ‘considerable financial stress’ for the average dairy farm worker. Without the means to invest in education or technology to develop their operations, the future of the dairy industry may suffer.
The Chobani Scholars program will be a part of the Chobani Foundation’s core areas of focus - strengthening communities, improving childhood nutrition and wellness and helping those in need.
Gonda said, “It’s important to us that dairy families in our own communities pursue education in dairy science.”
“[Chobani CEO and founder] Hamdi [Ulukaya] has long expressed his belief that dairy farms and dairy families are the backbones of our communities [despite] today’s industry experiencing a significant amount of change.”