Carissa Sohm awarded the 2023 Herb Clutter Memorial Scholarship
Posted April 19, 2023
“I want to work in the field of agriculture, more specifically agronomy, because I grew up in a very agrarian community,” Sohm wrote in her application essay. “I have always been interested in science and all things related to agriculture. The fact that I could easily find jobs in rural locations is also an enormous benefit.”
In addition to her agronomic experience, Sohm has been active in student government, student council, National Honor Society, basketball, volleyball, and scholar’s bowl. She was recognized as a 2023 Kansas Governor’s Scholar and a National Rural and Small Town Recognition Program Scholar. Some of her other accomplishments include maintaining a 4.0 GPA during high school and winning the 2023 State Scholars Bowl Championship. Additionally, she was the football homecoming queen.
Rolla High School does not have a high school guidance counselor, so Sohm applied her farm-girl grit and created her own database of scholarships listed by other area schools. That’s how she found the listing for the Herb Clutter Memorial Scholarship, which was established in 2009 to honor Herb Clutter’s influential role in organizing leadership groups on behalf of Kansas wheat producers. The scholarship is administered by the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and awards one $1,000 scholarship per year to a college or university-bound incoming freshman from Kansas pursuing a career in agriculture. Students applying for this scholarship must complete a 400- to 500-word essay discussing why they chose a career path in agriculture.
Herbert W. Clutter was a farmer from Holcomb and the first president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, which was established in 1948. Clutter encouraged Kansas wheat farmers to organize as a strong, unified voice, which led to the formation of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers in 1952. He encouraged research in education and industrial uses of wheat, improved variety development and methods to produce the best product at the lowest cost. Clutter’s efforts led to the formation of the Kansas Wheat Commission by the Kansas legislature in 1957.
Sohm’s focus on agronomy makes her the ideal fit for a scholarship honoring Clutter. She plans to attend Kansas State University to major in agronomy with a minor in animal science and participate in Student Mobilization (an interdenominational ministry organization) and the Wheat State Agronomy Club.
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she plans to go on to graduate school and eventually obtain her doctorate in agronomy. She would like to work as a research agronomist specializing in plant nutrients, soil fertility, and water use efficiency.
“The ability to research ways to increase crop quality and yield would be extremely beneficial to my community, “Sohm wrote in her essay. “My overall career goal as an agronomist is to take part in research that will improve farming techniques and products, subsequently lessening the financial burden on farmers. I hope that my current and future communities will be able to benefit from my work.”
Learn more about the Herb Clutter Memorial Scholarship at kswheat.com/clutter.
Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat