College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

IAA’s Julia Thomé Wins National Scholarship

Ed Priola

IAA’s Julia Thomé clenched fourth place in the 2014 Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) national scholarship competition. PGMS awards scholarships annually to exemplary university students who study grounds management. The awards help offset college expenses while simultaneously recognizing high academic achievement. Thomé, a second-year horticulture major at the IAA, was elated to receive both the academic honor and the accompanying $900 cash award.

So what does it take to win a national scholarship? Looking at Julia Thome’s life, quite a lot. No doubt, the PGMS scholarship committee took note of her impressive professional background and her solid academic record. In fact, before arriving at IAA, Thomé had already earned a master’s degree in agriculture and resource economics from the University of Maine. She is expected to wrap up her IAA certificate program with distinction in May. Even while pulling a full load of 20 credits, she still holds a 3.88 GPA.

Thome’s academic achievement has only been outshone by her remarkable professional background. For more than 20 years, she has worked in community development and non-profit management, both in the United States and overseas. While employed by Lutheran World Relief, Thomé supervised numerous international development projects in diverse places like India, Kenya, Nicaragua, Peru, and Tanzania. Her typical assignments involved working with local staff in rural areas on strategic planning for several weeks at a time.  Anti-poverty, agricultural development and emergency relief initiatives were all part of the workload. For example, in Kenya, one of Thome’s favorite project locations, she worked to develop irrigation infrastructure and water storage capabilities. Immediately before coming to the IAA, Thomé lived for two years in Brazil with her husband. And, yes, she even speaks Portuguese!

Why did she choose IAA? After returning to the U.S., she decided to pursue a technically oriented program. In her words, “IAA fit the bill.” Thomé states that she “loves the two year program at the IAA, which focuses upon technical expertise. It puts all the pieces together for me and it combines horticulture with hands-on fun.”

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