On Sept. 5, three Southwestern Michigan College agriculture students from Berrien County met Nancy Wuszke, benefactress of their more than $2,500 in scholarships.
Jessi Mazigian, Dakota Kiernan and Gregory Kugel are all enrolled in Michigan State University’s Institute of Agricultural Technology at SMC in agricultural operations, fruit and vegetable crop management or landscape management.
Kugel, of Berrien Springs, whose family grows apples, peaches, grapes and grain, studies fruit and vegetable crop management. Kugel will be the fourth generation in the Hinchman Road operation.
Kiernan, of Watervliet, studies landscaping with the long-term goal of starting his own business. He works for the college’s Building and Grounds Department as a student job on campus.
Mazigian, of Eau Claire, studies agricultural operations. She does not come from a farming family, but became interested in agriculture while working for a year at Andrews University’s dairy farm, which it used to teach dairy herd management, pre-veterinary medicine and international agriculture development. Milk the cows produced was sold to a co-op and used mostly by a cheese maker in Benton Harbor. She started her own beef cattle business over the summer.
“Agricultural operations is mainly a crop-based program,” Mazigian said, “but I figure I’ll have to know that stuff when it comes to growing feed for the cattle. Internships have helped me already. I’ve always loved animals, so I knew I was going to do that kind of farming.”
“All three of you, do your best. That’s all I can ask,” said Wuszke, who visited with the students and MSU coordinator Stacey Rocklin by the grape vines alongside the greenhouse on SMC’s Dowagiac campus.
She established a $100,000 endowment to fund George Wuszke Agricultural Memorial Scholarships after her husband, a lifelong Eau Claire farmer, died in 2015. The Wuszkes grew fruit and vegetables for 35 years, then concentrated on apples and grain. Their son, Greg, a CPA, graduated from SMC in 1982.
The SMC/MSU partnership graduated its first class in 2017.
“Thirty years ago SMC had its own agriculture program, but it was clear we couldn’t compete with Michigan State. So the right way to continue is to partner with them,” President Dr. David Mathews said. “It’s been a very successful program. We are indebted to anyone who steps up and says, ‘I want to forever help make students’ education possible.’ We thank Nancy for her commitment, not just to agricultural education and to SMC, but to changing students’ lives.”
SMC’s foundation accepts contributions to existing scholarships in addition to establishing new scholarships. Direct donations to SMC Foundation, Director of Development, 58900 Cherry Grove Road, Dowagiac, MI 49047. Contact Eileen Toney at (269) 782-1301 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.