The National Pork Board has awarded 18 scholarships to college students around the United States as part of its strategy to develop the pork industry's human capital for the future. The scholarship winners were selected from a pool of 21 applicants based on scholastic merit, leadership activities, pork production industry involvement and future pork production career plans.

"Helping develop the next generation of pork professionals is one of the top issues that the Pork Checkoff has identified as critical for the industry's future," said Karen Richter, president of the National Pork Board and aproducer from Montgomery, Minn. "Our ongoing service and obligation to producers includes ensuring that there is a sustainable source of young people
ready to take on the industry's charge of producing safe, wholesome pork in a socially responsible way."

The 18 student recipients represent 12 states, 10 universities and 13 swine-related career paths. The 2014 Pork Industry Scholarship recipients are:

Recipient Home Town Institution Career Path
Dustin Compart Nicollet, Minn. South Dakota State University Animal Science
Jake Erceg Talent, Ore. Kansas State University Swine Nutrition
Matt Kerns Clearfield, Iowa Iowa State University Business
Alyssa Clements Livingston, Tenn. University of Tennessee Animal Nutrition
Molly Frank Dexter, Minn. Iowa State University Production
Jared Mumm Kimberly, Idaho Kansas State University Behavior/Reproduction
Haley Gilleland Fitzgerald, Ga. University of Georgia Animal Science
Kiah Gourley Philomath, Ore. Kansas State University Swine Nutrition
Evan Koep Lakefield, Minn. South Dakota State University Immunology
Jordan Bjustrom Clarksville, Iowa Iowa State University Swine Health
Ashalynn Bilton-Smith Centralia, Wash. Washington State University Veterinary Medicine
Caitlin Hupp Cedar Rapids, Neb. South Dakota State University Production
Lauren Honegger Forrest. Ill. University of Illinois Swine Nutrition
Austin Bailey Curryville, Mo. University of Missouri Agriculture Education
Shelby Englert Logansport, Ind. Purdue University Sales and Marketing
Cathy Bernhard Batavia, Ill. University of Illinois Applied Swine Research
Emily Scholtz Comfrey, Minn. South Dakota State University Production
Wes Darcy Forked River, N.J. Rutgers University Veterinary Medicine

This year's top candidates were Dustin Compart, Jake Erceg and Matt Kerns, who will each receive a $5,000 scholarship. Compart, a junior at South Dakota State University from Nicollet, Minn., plans to eventually join his family's farm, selling seedstock and branded product direct to restaurants.  Erceg, a junior at Kansas State University who is from Talent, Ore., hopes to pursue a Master of Science degree in swine nutrition after completing his undergraduate degree. Kerns, a junior at Iowa State University from Clearfield, Iowa, plans to obtain his Masters of Business Administration and focus on the business side of pork production. The other 15 applicants will each be awarded $2,000.

"A skilled workforce is essential for the competitiveness of this industry," Richter said.  "The scholarship awards help encourage these young people to pursue a career that offers many diverse opportunities. On behalf of the Pork Checkoff and its partners, we congratulate this year's Pork Industry Scholarship recipients."