CAFES rolls out scholarship announcements via social media amid COVID-19 crisis

April 24, 2020 – As has become a common occurrence in these days of the COVID-19 crisis, another long-time social tradition had to be cancelled and attempts made to find a means to replace it. In this case, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls cancelled their 54th Annual Scholarship and Awards Banquet and instead rolled out the scholarship announcements on their Facebook page on the same evening the banquet would have been held.

Long-time Chair of the CAFES Scholarship Committee and Professor Gary Onan, who is retiring this summer, led off the announcements with a video message. After noting that serving on this committee has been one of his favorite duties, he went on to reassure and congratulate the graduates.

“We will get through this together. Your university education will continue, and these scholarships are just a small symbol of that sense of normality,” Onan said. “So, it is with a sense of pride that I congratulate these recipients for all their marvelous achievements, both scholastic successes and those involving service to their fellow students and community. I know all of you will continue to strive to be the best students and citizens you can, as we move through these unprecedented times.”

His message was followed by the announcements of the scholarships, approximately a half dozen were revealed every 15 minutes for the following four hours. At the end of the evening, thanks to many generous alumni and donors, CAFES had awarded 181 scholarships totaling over $169,000 to continuing students for the 2020-21 academic year.

One positive to releasing the scholarships over social media is that the Facebook page had over 2,000 views that day and engaged over 13,000 individuals whereas the annual banquet generally had an audience of just over 300.

Two new scholarships were among those awarded this year:

  • The 1959 Aggies CAFES Scholarship. Inspired by the excellence of students in CAFES and in recognition of the need for scholarship support, the Aggies from the Class of 1959 chose to give back to the college that had a great influence on their lives.
  • The Michael and Jessina Dineen Memorial Scholarship. The Dineens grew up in the Chippewa Valley. Mike worked in construction and Jess was the long-time band director at Chippewa Falls Middle School. Both were involved in hunter education programs and active in the Chippewa Valley Outdoor Resource Alliance. Their passion for the outdoors and commitment to education inspired Jess to create a scholarship program from their estate to provide scholarships to CAFES students pursuing an education in the fields of natural resources or environmental studies.

A booklet listing all the scholarships awarded is available to download and view on the CAFES website at

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