How scholarships can help today's companies encourage top talent

(BPT) - The demand for highly skilled employees continues to rise across various industries, spurring many of today's top companies to seek creative new ways to encourage and develop the best talent. One obstacle to that mission is the rising cost of higher education. To combat that, some businesses hope to foster tomorrow’s employees by supporting today’s students — in very concrete, targeted ways.

Industry leaders with an eye toward inspiring and attracting future talent are providing scholarships in specific fields to help students pursue higher education, such as Syngenta's "Accelerating a Generation" scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students in the agricultural field. Funding scholarships for students today becomes a very real investment in the future of the business, and the industry as a whole.

And ambitious students are eager to take advantage of these opportunities. One such example is Mitch Roth, who earned a national Syngenta scholarship in 2015 while pursuing a doctorate in genetics at Michigan State University. The scholarship support allowed him to focus more fully on his research, which has led him to a position as a postdoctoral research associate in plant pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Roth's research on the role of genetics in disease resistance in soybeans could one day have a tangible effect on improving soybean crops. The contributions of students like Roth will have a substantial impact on both farmers and on agribusiness in the future.

Students with higher degrees in these types of specialized fields are in demand across several trades. Companies like Syngenta benefit from supporting highly educated and well-trained talent, so they are prioritizing their efforts to ensure that more students today receive the educations that will propel them to the top of their fields. Since 2015, the company has awarded a total of $20,000 in scholarships each year. So far, scholarship recipients have pursued degrees at colleges in 18 states.

For 2020, the Syngenta scholarships have been renamed "Accelerating a Generation," emphasizing the focus on helping ambitious, innovative students find success and bring positive change to the agricultural industry. The scholarship awards eight $1,000 regional scholarships and two $6,000 national scholarships to help support each student’s education. One of the national awards is given to a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree, and the other for a student working toward a master’s degree in crop-related disciplines. The national award winners are chosen from the pool of regional scholarship winners.

The 2019 national winner at the master’s level is Nick Lord from Virginia Tech, who is enrolled in the Soybean Breeding Program. His essay encouraged students from various backgrounds to find a niche in the agricultural community. At the bachelor’s level, the winner was Adrienne Blakey from Oklahoma State University, who is a plant and soil sciences major. Her essay emphasized the value of integrity as a building block for the agricultural industry’s future.

How to apply

Students interested in applying for an "Accelerating a Generation" scholarship must be a university student currently pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a crop-related discipline, and a U.S. resident enrolled in an accredited agriculture program at an eligible university as of spring 2020.

Applicants must submit an initial application at Syngenta-us.com/scholarships by Jan. 7, 2020, followed by a 2- to 5-minute-long video essay by Jan. 15. This year’s video essay question is: "How have your roots shaped the way you view the future of the agriculture industry?" Winners will be announced by late spring.

The new graduates each year bring fresh minds with different perspectives to whatever field they pursue, which often leads to more innovation tomorrow. Syngenta uses their annual scholarships to show their commitment to giving these diverse voices the support necessary to lead the agricultural industry into the future.