Megan Eckhardt of New Braunfels, Texas, and Jaime Luke of Stanberry, Missouri, have each been awarded a $15,000 W.D. Farr Scholarship by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.
The annual W.D. Farr Scholarship program recognizes outstanding graduate students for their academic achievements, leadership, and commitment to the advancement of the beef industry.
Eckhardt and Luke were selected from a record number of 51 qualified applicants. The scholarship recipients will be recognized in Orlando, Florida, during CattleCon24, Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.
Eckhardt received a bachelor’s degree in animal science and meat science business from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in animal science from Angelo State University. She is now pursuing her doctorate in meat science at West Texas A&M University. Involved with 4-H and FFA from an early age, Eckhardt grew up helping on her family’s ranch in Texas. Participating in the full cycle of beef production from pasture to plate sparked her passion for a career in meat science.
“One day, I’d like to share my knowledge, experiences, and research findings related to meat science with future students, colleagues, and industry professionals,” said Eckhardt. “This scholarship gets me closer to that aspiration.”
Luke was raised on a diversified row crop and cow-calf operation in northwest Missouri. As her family discussed calving updates and commodity markets around the dinner table, Luke knew a career in the beef industry was in her future. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri and is currently pursuing her doctorate in the same field at Kansas State University. While her focus is on agricultural economics, including livestock and meat markets, she is also involved with ongoing research to understand cattle producers’ adoption of methane-mitigating strategies.
“I believe there exists value in communicating face-to-face with producers to fully grasp the ‘why’ behind the decision to adopt or not adopt a new technology or practice,” said Luke. “Receiving this scholarship will allow me to interact directly with producers to gather insights that can help the beef industry.”
The scholarship, established by NCF in 2007, honors the successful career of the late W.D. Farr. Farr, a third-generation Coloradan pioneer rancher, statesman, and banker, was known for his extraordinary vision. His dedication to improving agriculture, livestock, and water development resulted in significant changes in farming methods that have influenced the practices of ranchers and farmers throughout the nation. Farr was the first president of the NCF and served as president of the American National Cattlemen’s Association, which later became the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Farr died at age 97 in August 2007.
»Related: 2023 College Aggies Online scholarship winners announced