Delmarva Chicken Association Awards Scholarships To Seven Students


The Delmarva Chicken Association has presented seven students with more than $17,000 in scholarship money as they pursue college and graduate studies related to Delmarva chicken industry careers.

“By supporting these students, DCA is investing in the next generation of leadership for our chicken community,” DCA Executive Director Holly Porter said. “We’re glad these young people are interested in putting their education and skills to good use in the chicken community. They’ll join an essential, motivated workforce that feeds America and the world every day.”

The DCA awarded $2,000 scholarships to four undergraduate students, and three graduate students received scholarships of $3,000 each.

The Delmarva Chicken Association has awarded $178,000 in scholarships through its College Scholarship Program since 1985. The scholarships are funded by the DCA College Scholarship Golf Tournament, which will be held this year October 6th at GlenRiddle Golf Course in Berlin.

The scholarship honorees this year are:

Bethany Knutsen of Harrington, Del., a Woodbridge High School student who will enroll at the University of Delaware this fall. Knutsen’s career goal is to become an agronomist who owns her own crop consulting business, and in her scholarship application, she observed how closely connected the chicken industry and grain farmers, whose crops make up chicken feed ingredients, are on Delmarva. “Bethany has excelled academically and has exhibited leadership characteristics among her peers,” her agriscience teach wrote in recommending her.

Leighton Webb of Greenwood, Del., a Lake Forest High School graduate attending Delaware State University in the fall. Webb grew up on a family farm that raises chickens, and he’s participated in FFA and 4-H as a high schooler. With a summer job lined up helping a crop consultant, he intends to major in agronomy and move on to a career in grain farming. In a recommendation letter, Leighton’s English teacher praised his “drive, determination and character.”

Abigail West of Frankford, Del., a rising senior at West Virginia University who is majoring in agribusiness management. West grew up in a family that grows chicken and crops. “Growing up, I’d never seen anyone so devoted to their craft as my family was to this industry,” she wrote in her application. She intends to pursue work as a grain merchandiser after graduating next year, and she noted she’s paid her tuition so far with scholarships and jobs. “She is an excellent ambassador for the poultry industry,” a teaching assistant professor at WVU wrote in her recommendation letter.

Maci Carter of Harrington, Del., a rising junior at the University of Delaware majoring in agriculture and natural resources. Her career goal is to work for private industry or an extension service as a crop specialist. “I would be working with local farmers to help improve crop yield, which would benefit chicken companies in the form of feed,” she notes. In college, she has served on UD’s Agriculture College Council and acted as treasurer for Collegiate FFA and 4-H. Maci’s leadership on many committees, clubs, and community events at the University of Delaware and within her community has been exceptional,” one of her professors wrote in a recommendation letter.

Anuradha Jeewantha Punchihewage Don of Princess Anne, Md., a graduate student at University of Maryland Eastern Shore pursuing a degree in food and agricultural sciences. Don told us he intends to be a poultry researcher studying ways to reduce foodborne illness and improving chicken quality, and his graduate research focuses on Salmonella prevalence and antibiotic resistance in poultry. He previously earned a bachelor’s degree from Uva Wellassa University of Sri Lanka and a master’s degree from UMES. “Anuradha is an all-rounder who likes to learn new skills,” his UMES advisor wrote in recommending his application.

Christopher Burch of Fayetteville, Pa., a student of Hood College in Frederick, Md. pursuing a master’s degree in environmental biology. Burch is a soil and water conservationist for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and in that role, he travels to farms around the state to provide technical assistance and financial help to add new conservation features that improve production and reduce nutrient and soil loss. “Chris is an enthusiastic and engaging ambassador for agriculture and soil conservation work,” his master’s program director wrote in a recommendation.

Cirenio Hisasaga of Davis, Calif., a Ph.D. student in animal biology at the University of California. Hisasaga previously earned a master’s degree in ag sciences from Cal State, and his current research involves determining differences in mitochondria from broilers affiliated with different severities of woody breast. He’s also done internships with Foster Farms, Cobb-Vantress Inc. and California Dairies Inc. “My research projects can potentially provide Delmarva’s poultry industry with information regarding best on-farm practices,” he wrote, “and my research closely aligns with the industry’s commitment to animal welfare.” An advisor told us he has “impressive knowledge of poultry nutrition, physiology and overall management.”