DOVER, Del. — Mountaire Farms handed out $30,000 in “Farm to Table” scholarships recently to help support graduating seniors pursuing careers in agriculture, culinary arts or related fields that support food production and feeding the world.
This was the first year of the Mountaire Farms WBOC Farm to Table Scholarship program, which selects a deserving high school senior each month from September through June and shares their story on WBOC segments throughout the month. Winning students earn a $2,000 scholarship from Mountaire.
At the banquet held recently at the Delaware Agricultural Museum, students and their families were brought together to celebrate their achievements and hear from Delaware celebrity chef Hari Cameron. He congratulated the students on their achievements and recounted his journey to success, emphasizing “anything is possible with hard work and determination.”
Cameron has earned numerous awards and accolades including James Beard nominations for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic and Rising Star Chef of the Year. He recently competed against chef Bobby Flay on the Food Network and has been head chef and/or owner of several restaurants in the Rehoboth Beach area.
“It’s so important to recognize the key role agriculture and culinary arts play in our society today,” said Phillip Plylar, president of Mountaire Farms. “During COVID, it was those two industries that helped keep everyone fed. Shining a light on the important work of the people who grow, raise, prepare and serve the food we eat each day has been an honor.”
Scholarship winners include:
• Reef Ward, of James M. Bennett High School, wants to pursue a degree in agribusiness at the University of Maryland. He is a certified professional horticulturist and currently serves as a greenhouse and sales representative in Salisbury.
• Savana Geib, of Cambridge South Dorchester High School, wants to study marine biology and continue her studies in culinary arts. She plans to attend Anne Arundel Community College.
• Tabitha Lenhart, of Milford High School, is a member of the National Honor Society, FFA, ASL Club, and the track team. She plans to attend Delaware State University and study animal and poultry science, ultimately pursuing a career in animal genetics and breeding.
• Hunter Holladay, of Indian River High School, serves as FFA president, and is a member of the National Honor Society. He plans to attend Delaware Tech and study livestock veterinary science.
• Ty Beach, of Parkside High School, earned the Academic Achievement Award (2020, 2022) and the President’s Academic Achievement Award (2022, 2023) and graduated cum laude this year. He volunteers at soup kitchens and other community events and plans to study business at Wor-Wic Community College. He ultimately wants to own his own restaurant.
• Aidan Bell, of Laurel High School, is a member of the National Honor Society, FFA State Delegate Committee Chair, a member of varsity football and baseball teams and captain of the varsity wrestling team. He will be attending the University of Delaware where he plans to study agriculture and natural resources.
• Kai Bernard, of Caeser Rodney High School, serves on the Prostart Team, was the Delaware State Prostart state champion in 2023 and took second place at the National Prostart Invitational in 2023. She wants to attend Walnut Hill College and ultimately be a pastry chef and a bakery owner.
• Cecilia Uebel, of Stephen Decatur High School, a member of the National Honors Society, the National English Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. She also served as FFA vice president (2021) and FFA president (2022, 2023). She plans to attend the University of Delaware in the fall to study wildlife ecology and conservation and pursue a career in ag land conservation.
• Kiana Young, of Polytech High School, is a Prostart Team Captain who plans to attend the Culinary Institute of America. She wants to study baking and pastry and become a pastry chef.
• Samantha Teoli, of Indian River High School, worked at a farm-to-table restaurant for three years gaining experience while also being the captain of the girl’s lacrosse team, a member of the field hockey team, volunteering with the Leo Club and earning a spot in the National Honor Society. She plans to attend Walnut Hill College and become a head chef and a restaurant owner.
During the banquet, two overall winners, Bell and Teoli were selected receive an additional $5,000 scholarship for their outstanding accomplishments and leadership.