by Linda Tripp, 4-H Issue Leader

Four residents of Columbia and Greene counties have been selected as recipients of the Paul and Maria Morra Scholarship Trust Awards presented by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties. They will share the available $6,000 in awards. They were chosen on the merit of their applications, which described the breadth of their involvement in work, community programs, volunteer activities and awards. They also provided personal essays describing their plans for the future and the experiences that influenced their decision to pursue a career in the fields of horticulture, agriculture, forestry or natural resources.

Madison Bentley, a graduating senior from Taconic Hills Central School District, will be attending Paul Smith’s College this autumn to study forestry with a concentration in forest operations or forest biology. He is receiving a $2,500 scholarship. Madison’s essay said, “It is because of my Pop that I plan to attend Paul Smith’s College. My Pop once told me that I need to get up every day and be an honest, hardworking man and to do it with ‘gusto.’ My Pop was a logger…[he] taught me how to make it look like the forest was untouched…[he] taught me how to have a passion and love for my career and the nature around me.”

Lydia Chittenden is a rising sophomore at SUNY Cobleskill, having graduated from Maple Hill High School in 2019. She is studying animal science. She received a $1,250 scholarship. Lydia’s mentor, who helped to solidify her interest in the dairy cattle industry, is her dad. “Growing up on my family’s dairy farm, I had the privilege of being able to spend all my free time at the farm being my dad’s shadow, and learning first-hand the different jobs that go into successfully running a dairy farm,” she noted. “Now, I enjoy discussing different matings with my Dad and why they would be a good match. I could look through different pedigree and sale catalogs all day long…”

Iain Alexander is a graduating senior at Catskill High School. He will be attending Middlebury College to study environmental sciences this autumn. He is receiving a $1,250 scholarship award. Iain’s goal in studying to become an environmental scientist is to deal with climate change – specifically, to help increase the usage and efficiency of our natural resources, forgoing the traditional path of progression to create a different future for the generations to come.

Osman Gofran is a graduating senior at Hudson High School. He will be majoring in the environment and sustainability at Cornell University this autumn. He is receiving a $1,000 scholarship. Gofran said he “aspires to find ways to meet our society’s needs without harming the planet and working towards solving the leading challenges in the world.”