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Midwest graduate students honored with Land O’Lakes Foundation scholarships


The Land O’Lakes Foundation has announced the 2011 winners of the John Brandt Memorial Foundation scholarship: Sarah Engstrom, M.S. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Kevin Herrick, Ph.D. student at South Dakota State University.

The John Brandt Memorial Foundation scholarship program supports graduate students pursuing work in dairy animal, food science or agribusiness at one of four eligible institutions: Iowa State University, South Dakota State University, University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This year’s winners are both studying dairy science, each with different approaches. Engstrom is currently working on modeling the survival and growth of certain strains of bacteria in order to develop a predictive methodology for cheese handling and storage. Herrick, on the other hand, is studying the effect of enhancing the butyrate content of feed for lactating cows in an effort to drive lactation and milk production. Both projects promise to have a significant impact on the dairy foods industry at different points of production.

Engstrom and Herrick will each receive $25,000 to help them continue their important dairy research.

“Sarah and Kevin have demonstrated that they are truly committed to improving the dairy industry,” said Lydia Botham, executive director of Land O’Lakes Foundation. “We are proud to be able to support the development of their research projects, and we are inspired by all of this year’s applicants and their potential to impact food science and agriculture.”

Engstrom plans to complete her Ph.D. in Food Science in 2013, and she said she hopes to make a positive improvement to the dairy industry. “Cheeses stored at non-refrigerated temperatures would cost less to transfer and store—this benefits processors, distributors and consumers,” Engstrom said. “My research also has the potential to open doors in cheese innovations, such as optimizing adjunct bacteria growth for flavor enhancement.”

Herrick hopes to build on his already-established career in the dairy industry once he finishes his Ph.D. research in improving milk production. “This project is very rewarding for me,” Herrick said. “Economic conditions are very challenging for dairy producers. Any opportunity to provide a product or service that would help improve profitability would be satisfying.”

The scholarships are awarded in memory of John Brandt, an industry organizer who formed and remained president of Land O’Lakes until his death in 1953. The Land O’Lakes Foundation awards one or two scholarships each year to students who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and aptitude toward their field of study. Interested candidates can find more information and download an application form at Applications for the 2012-2013 school year will be accepted after March 1, 2012.

The Land O’Lakes Foundation was established in 1996 and is made possible by support from Land O’Lakes, Inc. In addition to distributing the John Brandt Memorial Foundation Scholarship, the Foundation awards community grants to projects that best address hunger issues; human services; youth and education; civic improvements; and arts and culture.

About Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Land O’Lakes, Inc. ( is a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative with annual sales of $11 billion. Land O’Lakes is No. 218 on the Fortune 500 and the nation’s second-largest cooperative. The cooperative does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. It is a leading marketer of a full line of dairy-based consumer, foodservice and food ingredient products across the United States; serves its international customers with a variety of food and animal feed ingredients; and provides farmers and ranchers with an extensive line of agricultural supplies (feed, seed, and crop protection products) and services. Land O’Lakes also provides agricultural assistance and technical training in more than 25 developing nations. The company’s 2010 annual report is available at


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