On behalf of the Rice Family, Seneca Conservation District is please to announce the 2018 Tia J Rice Memorial Scholarship winners!

Tia Rice was our past District Program Administrator; in 2015, she lost her battle to cancer. To remember and honor Tia, family, friends, and businesses donated money to a scholarship fund for students pursuing a career in a conservation or agricultural related field. Due to Tia’s love for the Ohio State Buckeyes, the recipient is also required to attend a branch of The Ohio State University. The winners were selected by the Rice family and submitted to the Board. Below are the winners!


Laura Schmuki

Laura aspires to become a food-animal veterinarian after she graduates college.

“I grew up on a Holstein dairy farm, as well as raised a 30 head herd of Angus beef cows. It has always been a priority of my family’s to work alongside the Stark County SWCD to make sure we are keeping our waterways clean and pastures thriving. Soil conservation and testing, pasture rotation for our cattle, usage of our natural springs as a water resource, and crop stripping to reduce water run-off have been a few ways in which we have strived to help keep our community clean and crops thriving.”

Laura is a graduate of Fairless High School (2013) in Stark County. Laura began her college career at The Ohio State University- Agricultural Technical Institute under the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences. She has since transferred to the Columbus campus of OSU where she is now under the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Laura is very active in the agriculture field. She is a member and volunteer of the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Ohio Cattlewoman’s Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the East Central Ohio Forestry Association. She has also been apart of several other forestry and beef associations and clubs through out her career. Her volunteer and community service works ranges from helping at the Sugar Creek Veterinary Clinic to assisting at the Ohio Beef Expo to serving food at the food shelter for the Salvation Army.

How is your education and career path going to improve natural resources for the future?

“As a food-animal veterinarian, my goal is to secure the future of livestock production by serving as a steward for agriculture advancement. I know that my role as a veterinarian won’t directly affect natural resources; however, with use of judicial and preventative medicine, I believe that that I can help contribute to a decline in antibiotic resistance. I also believe that by working with farmers on herd health practices for forage quality, nutrient efficiency, and parasite load, I can ultimately contribute to better management practice and environmental sustainability.

Having been part of forestry associations and helped to accomplish our family’s forestry plans, I have gained a passion for the forestry industry as well. With this being said, my future plans are to one day have my own tree farm where I can cut grape vines, decrease invasive species, and harvest a mature forest.

To me, without a good soil and water conservation background, a person cannot succeed in agriculture. Our whole lives revolve around the environment’s water, soil, air, and seasons. We all must work together, continue learning, and educate others in order to fulfill and see its greatest potential. Being selected as the 2018 Tia J Rice Memorial Scholarship recipient would not only aid my tuition costs at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine but would demonstrate tremendous support towards my ambition to sustain and further advance agriculture and conserve our environment.”


Sarah Schott

Sarah hopes to become a wildlife communications specialist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife after she receives her Bachelor’s degree.

“My whole life has essentially been spent in the outdoors. My family and I are avid, year-round hunters and anglers, and I thoroughly enjoy hunting, fishing, birding, and learning more about the outdoors. I have decided to make this into a career by teaching others the importance of conserving our natural resources for future generations.

Sarah is a graduate of Fremont Ross High School in Sandusky County and is currently attending The Ohio State University- Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. She is majoring in natural resource management with a specialization in parks and recreation and minoring in community outreach education. Sarah was very involved in high school, by participating in volleyball, orchestra, National Honor Society, and other leadership clubs. She also graduated as the treasurer and valedictorian of her class.

Sarah is also very involved in her church and community. She participates in the youth choir, youth group, and liturgical services at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Through out high school, Sarah also completed many hours of community service at several organizations such as Pheasants Forever and the Sandusky County Park District. She also participated in 4-H and the Terra Chamber Community Orchestra.

How is your education and career path going to improve natural resources for the future?

“I have always loved to teach others about the outdoors. Sharing my knowledge of our natural resources and how to conserve them for future generations is something I know I will always love to do. By receiving an education in natural resource management, I will learn in even greater detail the best ways to ensure future generations the natural resources we have today. I will use my education from The Ohio State University to teach others through speaking and writing. In doing this, I hope to inspire others to enjoy and learn more about the outdoors. I believe people are more likely to care for and protect something if they care about and respect it. By teaching others about the beauty of nature and how important our natural resources are I hope I will be able to inspire them to think twice about the impact their actions have. I also hope to educate others the important role sportsmen and farmers play in conservation. Some people do not have positive views on these people because they believe they are harming our environment. I want to teach them that this is not true, and that our ecosystem would in fact be unbalanced if it was not for these people.”



If you are attending The Ohio State University next year, we urge you to apply for the 2019 Tia J Rice Memorial Scholarship! Information regarding the scholarship application will be posted on our website soon, so be sure to watch our website! If you would like to receive email notifications to stay updated on our weekly posts, click here to sign up for our eNewsletter. 

If you are interested in donating to the Tia J Rice Memorial Scholarship fund, please contact the Seneca Conservation District!

About Sarah Schott

I have enjoyed hunting, fishing, and the outdoors my entire life. My enjoyment of writing, reading, and teaching others leads me to want to share my passions of the environment. I have also found conservation to be very important and I am well aware of how important conservation choices are! Through my work with the District, I like to deliver information that is helpful, inspiring, and challenging for our readers to make even better conservation choices of all our natural resources!

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