Catching Up With Citizen-Scholar Winners

By Emily Compton

Abigail Edwards

Abigail in a barley field in Bareti, Georgia. Photo Provided by Abigail Edwards

Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) Citizen-Scholar Scholarship winner Abigail Edwards has made the most of her academic and professional careers in the short time since she graduated from Quincy High School in 2015.

Abigail attended University of California, Davis, where she received her degree in sustainable agriculture and food systems with an emphasis in soil biogeochemistry. She also dual minored in global and international studies and history.

While at UC Davis, Abigail managed the university’s community-supported agriculture program, overseeing upwards of 200 students at a time.

She was involved in student government, serving on the academic affairs commission and, during her senior year, was one of two students selected from the entire student body of 35,000 to advise the university chancellor on student needs.

After graduating in May 2019, Abigail took a gap year. She traveled abroad to Georgia, where she did agricultural work and taught courses at UC Davis.

Abigail completed her Master’s in Environmental Science and Policy at Columbia University in May 2021 after completing an accelerated program, finishing her coursework in 12 months.

During her time at Columbia, she worked for the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, where she contributed to Technical Guide on Responsible Investment in Agriculture for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Abigail works for the State of New York’s Department of Agriculture and Market Soil and Water Conservation Committee as an Excelsior Service Fellow. Abigail says the work she is doing is about as close as she could get to her dream job at this point in her career.

She credits her ability to relate to farmers and those in rural communities to her rural upbringing and she herself farming and selling produce at the Quincy Farmer’s Market from age five to high school graduation. She plans to continue her career in agriculture policy and hopes to eventually make her way back to the West Coast.

Renee Harding

Renee and a classmate at the university’s Real Estate Club booth. Photo provided by Renee Harding

Renee Harding, PSREC’s 2019 Citizen- Scholar winner, was able to experience one semester of normal college life at University of Portland before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

When Renee returned to her classes to begin the second semester of her freshman year in early 2020, she had a few weeks of normalcy before returning home to Quincy to complete her coursework online, as many students across the country did.

Renee returned to campus in the fall of 2020 and is studying operations and technology management with an interest in supply chain management and inventory management.

As she enters the second semester of her junior year and begins more of her major specific coursework, she doesn’t have a specific sector or industry in mind, but does want to use her major in her future career.

Although moving to Portland was a big change, Renee says she loves the city and doesn’t even mind the rain. Although much of her time at University of Portland has been during the pandemic, she says the university is a great fit for her.

Renee enjoys embroidering and works at The Home Depot when not in class or studying. She currently is a garden associate but is applying for a head cashier position that would give her management skills even before she has completed her undergraduate degree.

Applications for the 2022 Citizen Scholar Scholarships are available on our Scholarships page or by calling the PSREC Member Services Department at 530-832-4261 or (800) 555-2207. The entry deadline is April 25.