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National Pork Producers Council awards scholarships to two Purdue students

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) awards 10 college students pursuing careers in the U.S. pork industry the Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship each year. The highly competitive $2,500 scholarships are awarded to undergraduates in either two-year swine programs or four-year colleges of agriculture. Among this year’s selected recipients were two Purdue undergraduate students studying Animal Sciences. 

Elizabeth Staggs, a sophomore and recipient of the NPPC scholarship, developed her love for the livestock side of the agriculture industry through showing livestock in 4-H. Although she grew up on a beef cattle farm in southern Indiana, Staggs said she developed a special connection with swine, something she looks to develop into a career paired with her love for talking with livestock farmers and producers. 

elizabethstaggs.jpg“Having that connection with people and passion for the industry has me seeing myself pursuing a career in either sales or event management,” she said. “Being able to work with the farmers and producers who essentially feed the world would be really fulfilling.” 

An advocate for the swine industry, Staggs wrote in her scholarship submission about the need for better public education about the modern swine industry, eliminating misconceptions. 

James Krotz, senior academic and career advisor and instructor in animal sciences, said Staggs’ future plans in the swine industry are completely within reach, given her combination of academic achievement and passion. 

“Ellie’s passion for the swine industry is evident, not only from her distinguished background in showmanship, but her academic goals and career plan,” Krotz said. “She plans to pursue a career in sales, where she will seek to educate her customers on improving their herd health and nutrition.” 

Keegan Sheiss, a senior and recipient of the NPPC scholarship, said growing up in Delphi, Indiana, where his father worked for the Indiana Packers Corporation, it was hard not to develop an appreciation for the swine industry. 

keegansheiss.jpgSpending time on his grandparents’ farm, he learned about swine and sheep showing, Sheiss said he’s now been able to see the need for connecting modern science and technology into the average farming operation. But he also understands the hesitation a lot of farmers have. 

“In my scholarship essay, I focused on how we could better adopt advancing technology within farms, while walking the fine line of understanding that the need for the human eye will never be replaced. It’s a balancing act.” 

Allan Schinckel, a professor in animal sciences, said getting to know Sheiss inside and outside the classroom, it was clear to him that Sheiss would be a shoo-in for the NPPC scholarship.  

“Keegan was a top student in my pork production class,” Schinckel said. “He’s been very involved in teaching showmanship as part of our Junior Pork Day, where he clearly demonstrated his ability to communicate with the youth participants and their parents.” 

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