Rice Scholarship Winner Promotes Health, Budget Benefits of Rice

Dec 14, 2015
From left: USA Rice CEO Betsy Ward; grand prize winner Haven McElhanon; and Leslie Rodgers
with Dow AgroSciences
Grand prize winner Haven McElhanon
NEW ORLEANS, LA – At last Friday’s USA Rice Outlook Conference Awards Luncheon, Haven McElhanon of Forrest City, Arkansas, took home the 2015 USA Rice Federation National Rice Month Scholarship, sponsored by Dow AgroSciences.  As the grand prize winner, she received a $4,000 scholarship and a trip here to attend the conference.

McElhanon’s initiative, “Rice – a Health Happy Hand,” touted the health benefits of budget-friendly rice, which she promoted through classroom visits and community events, spreading rice information, and recipes.  She also enlisted support from a local judge who signed a proclamation to make September Arkansas Rice Month.

McElhanon is the daughter of Dana Crisp and Steve McElhanon, and is part of a fifth-generation farming family in Arkansas.  While rice production has always been part of her community, she learned more about its importance while conducting rice promotions and serving as Miss St. Francis County Rice 2015.

“In spreading the news about rice and its nutritional value, I became interested in pursuing a degree in nutrition upon attending college in the fall of 2016,” says McElhanon, who is a senior at Palestine/Wheatley High School.  “I hope my efforts have made a difference in my community where so many suffer from poverty and poor health as a result of diet.”

To apply for the scholarship, students were required to develop a promotional program in their local community that highlights U.S.-grown rice as part of National Rice Month in September.  The second- and third-place winners are Mary Katherine Swindoll of Hernando, Mississippi, and Clay Parker, of Carlisle, Arkansas, respectively.

“During the past seven years of Dow AgroSciences sponsoring the National Rice Month Scholarship, we have been impressed with the students’ passion and effort they put into promoting rice in their communities,” says Leslie Rodgers, a crop protection representative with Dow AgroSciences, who presented the award.  “These applicants are our next generation of producers, teachers, and agriculture advocates.”