A new scholarship will be available for students of the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences as early as fall 2016.
Created by David Dowler, a former Penn State Extension employee, and his wife Lois Dowler, the scholarship endowment was established through a $50,000 bequest via the couple’s future estate , according to a Penn State press release.
Officially named the “Dowler Family Scholarship”, the award will generate $2,500 a year, Richard Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences , said. Full-time undergraduate students with outstanding academic records and a passion for agricultural sciences will be eligible to receive it, Roush said.
“In [both] the College of Agricultural Sciences and the university at large, we want to make sure that no student with the academic potential to get a degree in agriculture is denied that opportunity because they don’t have the financial resources,” Roush said. “While some will say I want to endow a scholarship only for dairy sciences or crop sciences, in this case the focus is just on academic excellence.”
David Dowler served as a county-based educator from 1980 to 2013 for Penn State Extension , an educational network that provides Pennsylvania residents with access to the university’s agricultural resources. His specific work included educational programming in all aspects of dairy farming - from feeding and nutrition of dairy cows and calves to farm financial management and planning, he said.
“I had a long career there, and it was a wonderful career,” David Dowler said. “I watched how the college and extension [affected] the lives of young people and on the agricultural community, and the impact was just huge in such a positive way. We always wanted to contribute, we just had to figure out how we could and how much we could give.”
The College of Agricultural Sciences currently gives out over $2.5 million worth in scholarships each year to more than 800 students, Roush said. In contrast to some of the university’s other scholarship programs, the College of Agricultural Sciences has a disproportionally high number of people who make relatively small donations, Roush said.
“[This] scholarship will provide further encouragement for students interested in agriculture [to] choose Penn State, knowing that we are going to do our best to make sure there is access for them to do so,” Roush said. “It really acknowledges [our employees’] deep commitment to the College of Agricultural Sciences – something which we are very grateful for.”
In recent years, David Dowler said he has noticed more and more people further removed from animals and all areas of agri-business. He said he hopes that with the help of this scholarship, an understanding of agriculture’s value to the environment and the contribution it makes will grow.
“Moving forward, the better we can do of educating our young folks and having them be our spokespeople in society, the better off we’ll all be in the agricultural community,” David Dowler said. “It’s my hope that in some small fashion, each and every student will contribute in some way to help the cause.”
Aside from David Dowler’s longtime career at Penn State Extension, both he and his wife said they drew inspiration for the scholarship through the success of their two daughters, Lauren and Jorden Dowler , in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
“Penn State made a lasting impression on our daughters. They felt it was somewhere they could thrive as students both academically and socially,” Lois Dowler said. “Our daughters both received multiple scholarships from “[The College of Agricultural Sciences] … so, we’re reciprocating. We saw how greatly it impacted them, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.”