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Outstanding Essay from NEC Scholarship Recipient

February 3, 2012


The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Renewable Fuels Foundation (RFF) believe it is important for students interested in the biofuels and renewable fuels industry to have an opportunity to explore what the industry has to offer them by meeting with and talking to experts and industry leaders at the National Ethanol Conference. For the third consecutive year, the RFA and RFF offered scholarships to students in higher education for a chance to receive a complementary registration at the 17th Annual National Ethanol Conference. Applicants were asked to explain how this scholarship will assist them in achieving their academic and/or career goals in 500 words or less. They were also asked to include two letters of recommendation, a current resume and an official school transcript. Each year, numerous students apply for this scholarship, and while all the recipients demonstrate an interest in moving forward in the industry, there are some that truly stand out. Below is one that stood out above the rest this year. You can find the other outstanding essay here. Karen Lewis is from a fifth generation family farm in Michigan that was settled in 1876.  She is currently a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University in the Morrison School of Agribusiness and Resource Management. Her research area of interest is agricultural policy analysis. "The National Ethanol Conference Scholarship will assist me in achieving my academic and career goals. I am currently a PhD student at Arizona State University (ASU) in the Morrison School of Agribusiness and Resource Management where I research agricultural policy. Attending the National Ethanol Conference will update my understanding of the current direction of ethanol policy and help my research endeavors at ASU. While my future career is still uncertain, my options include becoming a university professor, being an agricultural advocate, working for the government or working for an agribusiness industry. Therefore, the National Ethanol Conference will assist me in gaining insight into both my educational aspirations and my future career path. In addition to studying agricultural policy at ASU, I also researched ethanol production while I was a Graduate Research Assistant at Michigan State University (MSU). I received my Master's Degree from MSU in 2010 from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics. While at MSU I researched ethanol production and its impact on corn markets in the Midwestern United States. My Master's Thesis was titled, "The Impact of Ethanol on Corn Market Relationships and Corn Price Basis Levels." From my Master's Thesis, I published an article, titled "The Impact of Ethanol Production on Spatial Grain Market," in the peer-reviewed academic journal titled the International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, Volume 14, Issue 4. A second article from my Master's Thesis is currently under review at a peer-reviewed academic journal. I am the lead author for both journal articles and my MSU major professor, Dr. Glynn Tonsor, is my co-author. Attending the National Ethanol Conference is also of interest to me because I grew up on a fifth generation family farm in Michigan which was settled in 1876. On our family farm we grow corn, sugarbeets, wheat and soybeans on 1,100 acres of land. On our farm we also feed 700 head of beef cattle, and a primary feed input for our cattle are distiller's grains that come from the ethanol plant located in Marysville, Michigan. Learning about the direction of future ethanol production and policy at the National Ethanol Conference is of great interest to me because I have previous experience with federal level legislation. During the summer of 2007 I was an intern for the American Sugarbeet Growers Association (ASGA) when the 2008 Farm Bill was being considered and passed by the United States House of Representatives. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the ASGA is a lobbyist organization that represents all of the sugarbeet growers in the U.S. I would be grateful for the opportunity to see how the Ethanol Industry plans to shape future ethanol policy at the National Ethanol Conference. Attending the National Ethanol Conference would be an excellent and valuable addition to my educational and life experiences concerning ethanol production. Networking at the National Ethanol Conference will not only assist my educational goals, but it will also be beneficial to my future career in the agribusiness field."