IA scholarship winners 2022: Grubb, McGinn

Discover what brought the 2022 Anthony W. “Tony” LaFetra Scholarship Program recipients into the green industry, their future career plans and industry experience.
EDITED BY MCKENNA CORSON
Learn about Sheila Grubb and Kade McGinn, two of the 18 winners of the IA's 2022 Anthony W. “Tony” LaFetra Scholarship Program.

In this series, learn more about the 18 recipients of the Irrigation Association’s 2022 Anthony W. “Tony” LaFetra Scholarship Program sponsored by Rain Bird, given to college students studying and pursuing careers in the irrigation field.

The scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, were awarded based on the candidate’s letter of intent, financial need, resume, list of irrigation courses and letters of reference.

Since the program’s inception in 2016, 107 students have been awarded scholarships.

Sheila Grubb

Undergraduate student at Spokane Community College, Spokane, Washington
Graduation date: June 18, 2024

How and why did you get involved in agriculture?

I grew up in western Montana and we had a large garden sustaining our family. From an early age, I had a passion for growing quality food. Being in nature is therapeutic and I believe involvement with agriculture and the land is an important component of life. I also feel it is essential for people to know where their food comes from. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting in 2007 and am a freelance landscape artist, so I am not only involved with growing plants but also capturing the landscape through art.

What experience do you have in the agriculture industry?

I was working part time at our local museum and was looking to gain knowledge in the agriculture industry. I was hired at a local commercial greenhouse as a seasonal employee in 2009. I was offered a permanent position and worked my way up to be a lead grower of their culinary herb and perennial programs for nearly 10 years. I also worked in their market farm growing vegetables.

I own 10 acres, an old farmhouse in north Spokane and a large garden, and I’m working towards operating a market farm. This fall I decided to go back to school and am currently a full-time student working towards my Associate of Applied Science degree in small farm production, greenhouse management and landscape management and am plant merchandising for a regional grower.

What is a personal accomplishment within the agriculture industry that you’re proud of?

I feel education about agriculture and teaching future generations about how to grow food and where their food comes from is very important. I am a single mother of an amazing 5-year-old who has some special challenges, and I value our time planting and growing together. There is only about 1% of our population engaged in farming, so I am proud to join them. Seeing my son’s enthusiasm as a young grower and knowing I have contributed to his future as a land steward is empowering.

What kind of career in agriculture are you working toward?

I am currently working on getting a school garden established at my son’s school. I feel every school should have a garden for education purposes and promoting community involvement and inclusiveness, so I am interested in a career in agriculture education or involvement with a Farm to School program. I am striving to meld my passion for plants and art by operating a community supported agriculture market farm and art gallery where I can teach classes to engage youth and my local community.

What does smart irrigation mean to you?

Working in the greenhouse industry and market farming has allowed me to understand plants and what their needs are. Smart irrigation to me is about water conservation and the ability to water efficiently and conveniently. I have operated and maintained many different types of irrigation systems, and I have unfortunately seen many plants killed by over- or underwatering due to a lack of a smart irrigation system or design.

Kade McGinn

Undergraduate student at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas
Graduation date: May 13, 2023

How and why did you get involved in agriculture?

I got involved in agriculture at an early age when I started going to work on our farm with my dad. Growing up, I was always so interested in what he did every day, and from the moment I started working on our farm, I fell in love with working in agriculture. What first pulled me in when I was young was going around checking irrigation pivots with him every morning and helping with repairs.

What experience do you have in the agriculture industry?

I have been involved in agriculture my entire life. I first started by working on our family farm in South Central Kansas at a young age and progressed from there while learning about flood and pivot irrigation. I next got into helping with my dad’s Pioneer seed agency and running the warehouse along with the seed treater.

During the summer of 2021, I had my first internship, which was with Corteva Agrisciences doing research and development on corn, wheat and grain sorghum while also learning about drip tape irrigation. For the summer of 2022, I will be working for Bartlett Grain Company doing grain merchandising, and I hope to gain knowledge in many areas of that experience.

During the school year, I am also involved in ag econ/ag business and agronomy clubs where we listen to a variety of speakers on assorted topics around the industry. For the past two years I have been an officer in the ag econ/ag business club but stepped down this spring as I joined a risk management fellowship that begins next fall.

What is a personal accomplishment within the agriculture industry that you are proud of?

Getting started farming some of my own ground. This has been something that I have been working on for the past several years. A neighbor told me about a couple of opportunities where the landowner was looking to help get someone young started in farming, and I jumped at the opportunity when it was presented to me.

What kind of career in agriculture are you working toward?

I am currently working towards a career in production agriculture. My goal after my internships and possibly some time at another company is to return to the family farm and continue to sell Pioneer seed alongside my dad. I hope to expand our farming operation and continue to use irrigation to my advantage in raising the best crops in the most efficient way possible.

What does smart irrigation mean to you?

Smart irrigation means a couple of different things to me. First, it means that we are using our resources like water and land in an efficient way to help preserve them for future generations.

Second, it means that our operation is taking advantage of modern technology to help monitor irrigation equipment and use it to help grow the best crops possible.

Finally, with rising prices on all inputs, smart irrigation means using field maps to determine the best place to put those inputs throughout the field to maximize yields and minimize costs.

Read about the other 2022 LaFetra Scholarship winners.

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