Audubon area student is national scholarship winner
By KRISS NELSON
McKenna Nielsen will be receiving some financial help when she starts her collegiate career next fall.
Nielsen, of Audubon, was recently awarded a $5,000 scholarship thanks to a partnership between BASF and the American Soybean Association.
Each year, BASF awards academic scholarships to 12 future agriculture leaders during the Commodity Classic trade show. This year’s show was held last month in Anaheim, California.
“ASA is proud to once again team up with BASF to honor a young future ag leader,” said John Heisdorffer, ASA president and a farmer from Keota. “We are excited McKenna has chosen a career in agriculture and look forward to seeing her future successes in the field.”
Nielsen said she has been looking for scholarships to help with the cost of furthering her education.
“If you don’t apply, you can’t get the money which could be literally free money for my education,” she said. “When I found this one, I didn’t have super high hopes because it is a national scholarship. Anybody could get it.”
Nielsen said she filled out the application and was also required to write an essay.
“I wrote about agriculture and described how it has affected my life and how I have been very involved with FFA and 4-H,” she said. “My dad is a farmer and I have grown up on a farm.”
One unique goal Nielsen set for herself was to show each species of livestock throughout her 4-H career, and said she plans to accomplish that goal this year by showing sheep.
It is her knowledge and love of agriculture that made applying for the BASF-ASA soybean scholarship a no-brainer.
“Agriculture – that’s really what made this application process easier,” she said. “Knowing that I have that background and I included on my essay my leadership and volunteering experiences.”
Nielsen said when she received the call that she was the scholarship winner she was taken aback.
“When I got the call, I was extremely surprised,” she said. “It was crazy. It blew my mind. They were calling from the American Soybean Association. And not only did they tell me that I got the scholarship, but that they were sending me to California.”
Nielsen said she was able to not only make some new connections while attending the ceremonies for her to receive her scholarship, but her family took the opportunity to make it a family vacation.
“It’s a huge deal for me,” she said. “I don’t even know how many people applied, but I know there are so many other people that are very deserving of it too. It means a lot to me to get this scholarship. It’s super rewarding and I am so honored and I am going to represent it to the best of my ability.”
Throughout high school, Nielsen said she has been involved with as much as she could, including sports, speech, National Honor Society, student senate, choir and band.
“I am involved in it all,” she said. “But the biggest impact has been 4-H and FFA because that is something I have been able to by myself in and that’s also kind of my passion. And I guess I haven’t been the best in sports, but 4-H and FFA have definitely been worth it and they have taught me life lessons too.”
Those life lessons, Nielsen said, include the ability to speak in front of people and several other benefits.
“It’s not all about agricultural aspects,” Nielsen said. “It’s about leadership and now, I am also very confident in speaking in front of people and recommend everyone get involved with those organizations.”
Nielsen is planning to attend Morningside College, in Sioux City, and pursue a major in nursing, with hopes to include agriculture as a minor.
“I am planning on incorporating agriculture through ag studies and nutrition; to be able to study more of the food side and how it affects the body,” she said. “I am hoping to get involved in the ag program. I am excited to look more in to it.”
ASA and BASF said they chose Nielsen because they believe she will make a great impact on the future of agriculture.
Although Nielsen said nursing and agriculture are two different topics, she is hoping to incorporate agriculture into her studies and career because it has made such a huge impact on her life.
“I want to be able to give back, be involved and learn more about the food aspect of agriculture,” she said. “I think I can make an impact just by staying involved and I really do want to look future into how I can get more involved in agriculture and incorporate that agricultural aspect into my nursing studies.”
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