Kirkdorfer remembered with scholarshipPublished 2:12pm Thursday, February 25, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Following its 2010 organizational meeting last month, the Edwardsburg Public Schools Foundation announced it would add a scholarship to its opportunities – a scholarship with a strong tie to the community in its name alone.
The Keith Kirkdorfer Memorial Scholarship will be available to Edwardsburg seniors who hope to pursue their post-secondary education in agriculture or related fields.
A total of five $1,000 scholarships have been endowed to the foundation by Cynthia Kirkdorfer, widow of one the area’s beloved farmers, volunteer and community member.
The scholarship will focus on agriculture and its related fields, including: agri-business, agronomy, animal science, entomology, environmental studies, food industry management, food science, horticulture, plant pathology, technology systems, crop and soil sciences as well as trades focusing on mechanics and marketing, veterinary medicine and research in areas of bio-fuels, crop or pest management.
“That was my husband’s life,” Cynthia said Monday. “He loved farming.”
Before his death in 2008, Kirkdorfer of Kirkdorfer Farms in Edwardsburg had served on the board of the Cass County Farm Bureau; was involved with the Edwardsburg Fire Department; was treasurer of the Cass County Tractor Pullers Association; and was a lifelong member of 4-H and 5-H horse clubs.
According to information provided by the EPSF, Kirkdorfer’s farm “was the top soy bean producer in the state in 2006 and 2007 as well as the largest seed corn grower for Pioneer Seeds at their Plymouth, Ind. plant in 2007.”
This is the first time Cynthia has gotten involved in such a way with Edwardsburg’s schools and she said the scholarship was born out of conversations with members of the foundation and the Edwardsburg School Board.
Not only a testament to Kirkdorfer, the scholarship also touches on an area of study in an industry the state said was growing when it conducted a report in 2008.
It’s an industry Cynthia believes is important to highlight for interested students who could very well bring their skills back home.
“I think it’s very important,” she said. “But I think it’s very hard to get started with the expenses that it takes to be able to start farming, the equipment is so expensive and the land … it takes a lot to be able get started and get established.”
Her husband, she said, drove semis as a way to “supplement farming.”
Kirkdorfer is also remembered by the foundation “as the kind of person who was always there for those in need, and the first to offer help.”
President of the EPSF, Pat Bellaire said the new scholarship came about through conversations with those involved with the foundation who were friends with the Kirkdorfer family.
Bellaire added she “could not be more grateful” to Cynthia for her gift to the foundation.
“Keith Kirkdorfer truly represented the very best as a good neighbor, community member, family man and volunteer,” Bellaire said. “He was instrumental in so many good things happening in our area. Scholarships for students wishing to pursue areas of study in the field of agriculture is truly a wonderful way of passing his heritage forward.”
At just two years old, the foundation has already provided graduating Edwardsburg seniors with a total of 29 scholarships so far. It has also developed and administered grants to teachers and students as part of its mission to act as an independent but partner organization to Edwardsburg Public Schools, giving opportunities to eligible students.