Future Bright for Great Lakes Expo Ag Scholarship Winners

Future Bright for Great Lakes Expo Ag Scholarship Winners

Christina Herrick, Senior Editor of American Fruit Grower presents Sara Getson with a scholarship from American Fruit Grower and American Vegetable Grower magazines during the Great Lakes Expo banquet. (Photo: Carol Miller)

The future for fruit and vegetable farming looks bright in Michigan. And during this month’s Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids, MI, this bright future came in the form of the presentation of scholarships to several deserving students in the fruit and vegetable industries. The scholarships are presented by the Michigan Vegetable Council and the Michigan State Horticultural Society and are sponsored by several companies and organizations, including American Vegetable Grower®American Fruit Grower®, and Western Fruit Grower® magazines.

Here’s a look at the 2018 scholarship recipients:


Patrick Abeli (Michigan State University): Patrick will complete his master’s degree in Horticulture in May 2019. He has participated in studies trying to extend the postharvest life of fruits and vegetables. He is currently researching blueberry biology. Patrick recognizes the need for clear communication in agriculture and hopes his future career helps bring together growers, researchers, and consumers.

Logan Appenfeller (Michigan State University): Logan is pursuing a master’s degree in entomology with a focus on Agricultural Entomology/Ecology. Logan spent this past summer working at the Kellogg Biological Station, collecting data on the squash bee. After completing his degree, Logan plans to stay in the Midwest and find a job in the vegetable or fruit industry.

Emilie Cole (Michigan State University): Emilie is pursuing a master’s degree in entomology with a focus on nematology. She has worked in several labs dealing with cherry and raspberry production. Her current studies focus on potato early die complex. Emilie will graduate this coming summer.

Sara Getson (Michigan State University): Sara is pursuing a master’s degree in plant pathology with a focus on fungal diseases. Sara worked in plant pathology and mushroom technology labs during all five years of her undergrad career. Sara is currently spending time working on asparagus at MSU. After graduation Sara hopes to take her knowledge not only to growers but into the community. Sara will graduate this coming summer.

Gayathri Guanthilaka (Michigan State University): Gayathri currently has a 4.0 while working on a doctoral degree in food science specializing in vegetable processing safety. Gayathri has already spent time working in the industry at the likes of National Beverages and Pellerito Foods. Upon completion of a Ph.D., Gayathri wants to become an Extension worker with research responsibilities at a government agency or a university.

Amanda Hagyard (Michigan State University): Amanda plans to graduate in May 2019 with a degree in Agribusiness Management. She has spent the past summer as a crop scout working in many different fruit commodities. Her passion is to help farmers do their best and hopes to start a career as a sales representative or crop consultant upon graduation.

Taylor Hawks (Michigan State University): Taylor is working toward her bachelor’s degree in Horticulture with an expected graduation of May 2020. She has worked at Dow Gardens helping to manage the operation’s apple orchard. She has enjoyed creating an integrated pest management plan for them and hopes to have her own apple orchard and farm market one day.

Jessika Maas (Michigan State University): Jessika plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in Entomology at the end of next year. She has worked with brown marmorated stink bug and spotted wing drosophila in Larry Gut’s lab. She hopes to continue her education with a master’s degree and pursue a career in integrated pest management.

Kjersten Oudman (Michigan State University): Kjersten is currently working on a master’s degree in plant pathology, specializing in fungal diseases. Kjersten has spent time volunteering at DeVries Nature Conservancy Farm in Owosso, MI. After school, she hopes to do freelance journalism on all areas of agricultural science and help bring awareness to the wider public about farmers and the science that is pursuing the best food system that can be created.

Ben Savage (Michigan State University): Ben is planning to graduate with a master’s degree in Entomology in Spring 2020. He has performed research on several different fruit commodities including apples, grapes, and raspberries while trying to find improved methods of pest control. In the future, he hopes to have a career where he is able to learn new information and pass on his findings.

Patrick Stillson (Michigan State University): Patrick is currently working on a master’s degree in entomology, specializing in insect-vectored plant disease. Patrick spent the summer with carrot and celery growers. Patrick collected and tested leafhoppers to learn more about Asters Yellow. After a master’s and doctorate, Patrick would like to stay in Michigan and be a professor at a land-grant university.

Sara Trattles (Kansas State University – Online): Sara is looking to complete her master’s degree in Agribusiness Management in Spring 2019. She currently works for GreenStone Farm Credit Services and hopes that this education will help her continue to serve her specialty crop clients better. In addition to her work at GreenStone, she also farms with her husband in St. Joseph County.

Tye Wittenbach (Michigan State University): Tye plans to graduate with a master’s degree in Horticulture in Spring 2020. In addition to working on his family’s farm, he has spent time the last few years working as a research assistant and an orchard scout. Tye hopes his research will lead to ways to prevent bitter pit in apples. He is looking toward a career as an extension agent and on the family farm.

Jordan Tatter Scholarships

Tye Thompson (Michigan State University), undergraduate winner: Tye is majoring in Horticultural Science. He has participated in many agricultural groups including the Michigan State Horticulture Association and FFA. Most notably, Tye has pursued his love of farming by starting his own small farm. He grows vegetables on a few acres and sells his produce at a couple nearby stands. He has slowly expanded this business and has seen it grow successfully. In the future, Tye hopes to run his own farm market. Tye and his farm were recently featured on the cover of American Vegetable Grower.

Suzanne Slack (Michigan State University), graduate winner: Suzanne is pursuing a PhD with a thesis focused on fire blight control in apples. Her research has focused on timing applications more effectively in order to save growers money and reduce potential resistance issues. She has given a number of talks recently, passing on insights from her research. Suzanne hopes to have a career as an extension educator to be able to work closely with growers to help them be as effective and efficient as possible.