BROOKINGS, S.D. - A graduate student who hails from the Estevan area is one of a few students from across North America to receive a prestigious agriculture scholarship this year.
Cassidy Ross, who is studying at South Dakota State University, is a recipient of a $3,000 Lallemand Forward Scholarship, awarded to students pursuing a degree in veterinary science, agriculture or related field.
“It was really cool getting the news,” she told the Mercury. “Especially with it being so wide ranging.”
Ross submitted an essay as part of the scholarship application, and she said she was pretty proud of the document. While she didn’t receive any feedback for why she was selected, the scholarship received “a significant amount of weight”, she said. Applicants were asked to select an issue in agriculture today. She picked mental health.
The selection committee was also pleased she showed strong career goals and ideas for her future, she said. Ross is in her first year of studying animal science with a concentration on ruminant nutrition for beef cattle. She has about a year and a half remaining, so the $3,000 prize will be a big help.
“It never hurts to have a little bit of financial help, especially with me being in school for so long. It definitely relieves a little bit of stress,” said Ross.
Before she started studying at South Dakota State, Ross obtained a bachelor of science in agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan, with a major in animal science and a minor in ag. business. She graduated in 2022.
“I’m very much enjoying my studies down here, and I’m learning a lot,” said Ross. “One thing about a master’s degree versus just an undergrad degree in animal sciences is I’m learning everything that’s going to be attributed to what I’m doing in the future. So it really gives a little bit of extra reason to study hard and just really understand the things that I’m learning.”
Ross initially wanted to become a veterinarian when she enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan. After her second year at the U of S, she decided it was not the career for her.
“It wasn’t what I was passionate about, it wasn’t something that I wanted to do, so it was a little bit of a crisis for me, actually. I did some research, and I found ruminate nutrition consulting for ranches and feed lots, and it was something that I was very interested in.”
An internship in the summer of 2021 convinced her it was the career path she wanted to take.
“I’ll be working directly with producers and cattle, and that’s one thing I wanted to do,” said Ross. “That’s one thing that drove me towards veterinary medicine when I wanted to possibly be a vet.”
She wants to obtain a PhD in ruminate nutrition, which means she will continue with her studies for a few more years. Then she will venture into nutrition consulting.
Ross hopes to one day return to Saskatchewan once she is finished with school.
“Saskatchewan is home,” she said. “I definitely want to return to Saskatchewan, or Canada for sure.”
Her family is well known in the local cattle community, and Ross gives them lots of credit for their support and helping her find a love of animals.
“It definitely started my passion, specifically for cattle and cattle feeding, and it has definitely given me a boost that dad [Chad] has been so well known and has helped me get my earlier jobs during my summers at university, and definitely gave me a boost. I’m thankful for that.”
This is the seventh year of the Lallemand Forward Scholarship program, which has provided US$109,500 to students since its inception in 2015.
“Cassidy’s clear vision for her future career stood out among the graduate students who applied,” said Mike Steilen, director of marketing for Lallemand Animal Nutrition, North America. “All five winners are rising stars, and we look forward to their contribution to agriculture and food production.”