For more than twenty years, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers has invested in the future generation of dairy leaders by offering scholarships to the children of our employees and members, and the employees of our members. Some past recipients have gone on to be ag lenders or food scientists. Even our own Lindsay Reames, Executive Vice President of Sustainability & External Relations, found her college education supported by our scholarship program. Other recipients have returned to the farm to continue it for another generation.
We caught up with two past Maryland & Virginia Scholarship winners to learn about where they are now and how their MDVA Scholarship helped propel their dairy career.
Rachel Gray, Grayhouse Farms, Stony Point, North Carolina
Rachel Gray graduated this April from the University of Mount Olive with a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness. Rachel has returned to her family’s farm, Grayhouse Farms, in Stony Point, North Carolina. One of her more rewarding college experiences was interning at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana.
“During my internship, I worked closely with the herdsmen and breeders at Fair Oaks. I also helped in the maternity barns and with the veterinarians. I really enjoyed that opportunity,” Rachel said.
Since graduating earlier this month, Rachel has been working on her family farm where she is the assistant herdsperson and helps with heifer and cow management, herd health, harvesting crops and field work.
What are your future plans?
“This June I will be traveling to Germany for three months through a program called International Foreign Youth Exchange (IFYE). The North Carolina Soybean Producers Association is sponsoring my trip and I’ll have the chance to live with several different host families. I’m looking forward to learning about the agriculture industry in Germany and to learn more about the culture. “
What part of dairy farming do you find most rewarding?
“Working with my family and having the responsibility to produce quality, nutritious food for consumers is very rewarding. I also like watching calves being born, helping to care for them and then see them enter the milking herd.”
Mark Phillips, North Point Farm, Waynesboro, Virginia
Mark Phillips of Waynesboro, Virginia used his Maryland & Virginia Scholarship to attend Virginia Tech. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness in 2018 and went to work for AgCentral Cooperative in Athens, Tennessee. There he worked in the dairy department where he helped install Delaval robots and other dairy, manure, and feed equipment. Eventually Mark and his wife, Hunter, found their way back to their family farm, North Point Farm, in Virginia. Mark now oversees the nutrition program, helps to manage personnel, and works on facilities improvement to advance animal welfare and milk production.
What are your future plans?
“I want to grow our family dairy farm for the next generation just as my dad did with his brothers. We are milking 1,400 cows and it is a tremendous responsibility.”
What do you enjoy most about dairy farming?
“It’s personally rewarding to know our animals by more than just a number. Working alongside people on our farm who really pay attention to detail is great for our cow welfare and in turn milk production. Keeping the focus on our cows has helped me add value to our farm.”
Each year, Maryland & Virginia awards scholarships through the MDVA Fund. To be eligible for a scholarship, students must be the son, daughter or employee of a current co-op member or the son or daughter of a Maryland & Virginia employee and attending an accredited college or university. For more information about the cooperative’s scholarship program, visit the Maryland & Virginia scholarship page.