Left:George Spain, Marion Dilday and James Jeffreys
Right:Dean James Oblinger, Shirley Burt and Fred Burt
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean James Oblinger hosted two special scholarship endowment signings in mid-March. First, Fred Burt and his wife, Shirley, signed and presented a check to fund the Lt. Colonel Fred W. and Shirley C. Burt Agricultural Scholarship Endowment. Second, Marion and Jane Dilday, James Jeffreys and George Spain created three new undergraduate scholarship awards as they signed an amendment to the North Carolina Seedsmen's Association Scholarship Endowment and Foil W. McLaughlin Fellowship Award Endowment. The Seedsmen's Association will match their gifts to create the Marion and Jane Dilday Scholarship, the James and Lois Jeffreys Scholarship, and the George and Gladys Spain Scholarship.
The Burt Scholarship Endowment is to be used to provide merit-based scholarships for undergraduate students enrolled in any traditional agriculture program in the College. Students must be planning to return to their family farm after graduation. First priority will be given to students who fulfill those criteria and that live within a 100-mile radius of Wake County.
The criteria reflect the Burt family's Wake County agricultural heritage which goes back centuries, with ancestor John Burt receiving his Wake County farm as a land grant from the King of England in the 1750s. The remaining 800 acres of that original land grant are still farmed by the family. The Burts also are a third-generation N.C. State University family: Burt's father, Elmer, attended in the mid-1940s, Burt graduated in 1974, and his son, John, a student in the College, is a member of the N.C. State class of 2004.
"I have been very blessed in many ways in my life, by my heritage and my parents," said Fred Burt at the signing ceremonies. "There comes a time when you need to pass on those blessings to other people and allow them to have the opportunities that you had. And we need to have young people going back to the farm."
Dr. Ken Esbenshade, College Academic Programs director, said, "This is a very significant day in the life of our College. Because of this scholarship, more students with an interest in production agriculture will be able to come to N.C. State."
The new scholarships created by the Dildays, the Jeffreyses and Spains are three of five planned Named Matching Gift N.C. Seedsmen's Association Scholarships. They are to be awarded as merit-based scholarships with a need component.
"Today is the latest amendment to the original agreement [with the Seedsmen's Association], each amendment modifying and adding dollars to the endowment," said Oblinger, noting the number of undergraduate and graduate students that have benefitted from the N.C. Seedsmen's Association Scholarship and the McLaughlin Fellowship. "Now the Seedsmen's Association has said that if anyone in the organization endowed at a $25,000 level, the Seedsmen would match that. Today, three of those five matches are present to sign the agreements to put those endowments in perpetuity."
Marion Dilday, who has worked tirelessly to create the scholarships, said he was campaigning to make two more a reality. Speaking for the Seedsmen, he said, " We know the value of having young people back in agriculture. It makes you feel good to know you help young people."
-- Terri Leith