Scholarships

Andrew RutherfordIOIA accepts applications for the annual Andrew Rutherford Scholarship Award, which provides full tuition for an IOIA-sponsored organic inspector training course during the following year. Both prospective and experienced inspectors are eligible to apply for the Rutherford Scholarship. It is awarded to an individual on the basis of need and potential as judged by the IOIA Scholarship Committee. Applicants can choose to attend any IOIA-sponsored training. The Scholarship pays for tuition, room and board but does not cover transportation or other expenses.

The late Andrew Rutherford was a farmer, organic inspector, and organic agriculture researcher from southern Saskatchewan. He served on IOIA's initial steering committee and then several years as a Founding Board Member.

IOIA also offers an annual Organic Community Initiative Scholarship (OCIS), which provides full tuition for an IOIA-sponsored basic organic inspector training during the following year. It is awarded to an individual on the basis of need and their potential to have a positive impact on their regional organic community. The Organic Community Initiative Scholarship is only open to applicants from outside of the US or Canada. Applicants can choose to attend any basic IOIA-sponsored training. The Scholarship pays for tuition, room and board but does not cover transportation or other expenses.


2020 Andrew Rutherford Scholarship Recipient - Anais Edwards, Gainesville, Florida US

Anais Edwards

I first became interested in the National Organic Program after being hired to work an administrative position at an organic certification agency. Prior to that, I had not thought much about where our food comes from and the processing it goes through before reaching consumers. As inspection coordinator, I worked with various inspectors around the nation and reviewed reports for completion, which laid the foundation for learning about non-compliances and what to look for in a process. After shadowing a couple of audits and understanding the rules and regulation that surrounds the organic label, I became interested in becoming an organic auditor myself. I held a number of jobs over the years for the USDA and for Feed the Future, which furthered my interest in sustainable food production.

In 2019 I began working with Raindrop Gardens, a local tea and rare plant farm in Florida, and began getting my hands dirty for the first time. Working with local farmers gave me a glimpse into the labor that goes into sustainably produced food, and shifted my interest towards processing/packaged foods. I was previously in school for Biology, and changed my degree program to Agriculture. A previous contact from my time at the organic certification agency does a multitude of inspections in various scopes, and helped further my interest in becoming an inspector myself. After their encouragement, I applied for this scholarship hoping to receive training in organic processing inspections. This scholarship will (hopefully) allow for me to become a part-time inspector while completing my studies after transfer into the University of Florida. I plan to take additional trainings in the upcoming years and become a multi-scope inspector.


Peter Obidike2020 OCIS Recipient - Peter Obidike U.
Lagos, Nigeria

My name is Peter Obidike Ugochukwu, I am the recipient of the OCIS scholarship 2020. I studied Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu. Currently, I work as the Production Manager of a small scale food factory in Nigeria.

Nigeria is a country where approximately 70% of the farmers are traditional rural farmers who, by their nature of subsistence agriculture, produce “Uncertified” organic foods using localized and natural resources due to the inability to get the right synthetic inputs. Thus, to become an organic farmer and food producer in Nigeria is extremely difficult because of improper organic training and inaccessibility to certified organic inspectors who are essential to the certifying of both farms and food packaging industries. The cost of engaging an organic inspector is very expensive due to the very reason of inviting them from Europe and America. This is the vital reason why products are falsely branded “Organic” to defraud end consumers in Nigeria. This untruthful and pathetic misrepresentation of organic brands propelled me to step forth and challenge the abnormality of the situation.

First, I started educating a small group of local farmers about the needs of farmland to be free of pesticides and fertilizers residues and farm lands must contain beneficial macro and microorganisms. The whole ecosystem must be right. To this effect, I developed a bio fertilizer using natural compost for soil and plant enrichment, and use bio pesticides made from neem ingredients. Seed propagation becomes our standard practice to get seeds free of chemical treatment.

My agenda in the year 2020 will be to resign from my current job and get fully engaged as an organic inspector. I shall be readily available to help my country climb up the height in organic practice. I shall also be readily available to assist other international organic inspectors and to learn from them and achieve a global organic safe community.

I remain sincerely grateful for this OCIS scholarship, it has become an inspiration and a dream to behold, and I shall remain accountable to become a certified organic inspector. Thank you. PETER OBIDIKE.U


The Deadline for returning Scholarship applications is October 1.

Scholarship recipients are notified by December 15.

Download and save .pdf application forms prior to filling out for either scholarship program from the links below.
If you open the form in Adobe Acrobat Reader (the free version, download at Adobe.com), you should be able to fill it out, save it and email back to us. There is a list of features in a menu on the right side of the screen - the writing pen in purple is the one you want. It will allow you to fill out the form and even add a 'digital signature'.

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Completed applications and queries can be emailed to: scholarship@ioia.net

How to fill out the scholarship application forms (Read this first!)

Rutherford Application
Rutherford Recommendation Form
OCIS Application
OCIS Recommendation Form