Fran tenBensel Benne | Agronomy and Horticulture
Justin Zoucha, a senior agronomy major, has been awarded the largest single scholarship ever given — just over $10,000 — by the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.
The Karl E. Peters Memorial Scholarship was created to assist University of Nebraska–Lincoln agronomy students who plan to farm after graduation. Irene Unger Peters wanted to provide a memorial to honor her late husband, a long-time farmer. The Peters farmed two sections at the corner of 148th and O Street, outside of Lincoln.
“Words cannot describe how thankful I am to receive this scholarship,” Zoucha said.
Growing up on his family farm near the Platte River in southern Colfax county, Nebraska, Zoucha attended Scotus Central Catholic High School and has always been involved with farming.
“Our operation has expanded from 200 acres to 1000 acres today,” he said. “We raise corn and soybeans as well as run a 70-head, cow-calf herd. My father and uncle operate the farm and they have done an exceptional job of supporting two families, farming sandy, water-table ground.”
This involvement in the farm led him to study agronomy at Nebraska, specialize in integrated crop management and minor in mechanized systems management. He also joined the Agronomy Club and participated on the Crops Judging Team.
“I chose Nebraska because it’s the best school around for agricultural majors. I received good scholarships and I’ve always been a huge Husker fan,” Zoucha said.
He also believes the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture has smaller class sizes that focus more on individual, hands-on learning. “It helped me form great friendships with my classmates and good relationships with my professors,” he said.
Zoucha cut his teeth on crop scouting and assisting with seed sales as an intern at Tri County Ag Service in Schuyler every summer.
“Justin is definitely one of the smartest, most diligent and professional advisees I’ve had so far,” said David Holding, Zoucha’s adviser and an associate professor of agronomy and horticulture.
Since attending the university, his role and responsibilities on the family farm have expanded. He has plans to make the farm more profitable, while improving conservation and diversity practices, due largely, in part, to ideas introduced to him through coursework at Nebraska. Zoucha admits he’s learned a lot but now believes he’ll be a lifelong learner.
“My ultimate goal is to keep the family farm going and pass it on to future generations,” he said. He realizes that until then, he may need another job, so he would like to pursue a career in crop scouting and/or seed sales and help farmers to produce the best crops possible.
Set to graduate in May, Zoucha will be a Teaching Assistant for Agronomy 366 Soil Nutrient Relationships during the spring semester under Meghan Sindelar, assistant professor of practice in agronomy and horticulture. He will be helping students develop their course project, an integrated soil fertility management plan for an actual grower/producer.
In order to be eligible for the Karl E. Peters Memorial Scholarship, students must be an agronomy major with a junior or senior class standing, have a minimum GPA of 3.0, graduate from a Nebraska high school and plan to farm after graduating from the university.
Contact Anne Streich, associate professor of practice and undergraduate adviser in agronomy and horticulture, for more information.