RALEIGH – The North Carolina Pork Council Board of Directors has unanimously voted to substantially increase scholarship funding for 2020 in an effort to reduce financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on students at North Carolina colleges and universities.

The action means that the NC Pork Council will provide $35,000 this year in scholarships and financial aid for students studying animal science, agribusiness, environmental science, public health or related fields. The NC Pork Council previously adopted a budget supporting $4,000 in scholarships.

“The board felt strongly that we should try to help more students, and hopefully keep more students in school now and working toward degrees in those key areas that are important to our industry, and to agriculture,” said Jim Lynch, president of the board and a Wayne County farmer.

The board’s approval included $24,000 in “emergency” aid for students who are in need due to the COVID-19 crisis. The funds will be provided to students at:

  • NC A&T State University
  • NC State University
  • East Carolina University
  • University of Mount Olive
  • Bladen Community College
  • James Sprunt Community College
  • Sampson Community College
  • Wayne Community College

Additionally, the board increased funding for existing scholarship programs and reaffirmed previously budgeted amounts. In all, $11,000 in scholarships will be available to students at four-year and community colleges this year separate from the emergency program.

“Community colleges are grateful to our partners at the North Carolina Pork Council for supporting our students during this time of need,” said Peter Hans, President of the NC Community College System. “The pandemic has provided a vivid reminder of the importance of agriculture to all Americans. The future depends on those students who are armed with the knowledge of how to protect and enhance our national food supply.”

Each school will use the emergency funds at the discretion of the appropriate deans and/or their designees.

“We appreciate the North Carolina Pork Council’s support for NC A&T State University over the years, especially this commitment under such a challenging environment for the industry,” said Dr. Mohamed Ahmedna, dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at N.C. A&T State University.

The thought was echoed by Dr. Richard Linton, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University. “N.C. State is so appreciative of the North Carolina Pork Council for its vision and support of our students and the future talent that will help grow our industry,” Linton said.

Dr. Paul Schwager, dean of the College of Business at East Carolina University, said the funds will alleviate worries for students. “Thank you to NC Pork Council for this investment that will help eastern North Carolina students realize their dreams,” Schwager said.

Dr. Edward Croom, president of the University of Mount Olive said the increased support is “meaningful and timely.”

This action by the NC Pork Council, he said, is “just another example of its continuing pledge to education and the future of the agricultural industry.”