IOIA 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.
Organic Community Initiative Scholarship
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.
OCIS Travel Fund
The OCIS Travel Fund is supported entirely by donations and has helped scholarship recipients from South Korea, India, Mexico, and other countries travel to training.
IOIA is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit educational association, your donations are tax-deductible in the US to the full extent allowed.
2024 Andrew Rutherford Scholarship Recipient
Iris Rendon, Ontario, Canada
I have been committed to the organic industry for over a decade and am invested in its future. I believe strongly that the principles promoted by organic agriculture and food production are essential to preserving our home, the earth. I am determined to support the movement through my career as well as by my personal choices each and every day. Having worked in all levels of organic oversight from sitting at the table with the CFIA when regulatory decisions are made, assisting the USDA-NOP with organic fraud investigations, to working directly with the producers in the context of certification to the organic standards, I understand the many challenges the organic industry faces when interpreting and applying the standards, as well as the challenges the regulators experience when writing and enforcing the standards. This background has offered me a big picture perspective; I understand how the various levels of oversight work together and support each other. I am a skilled auditor with great eye for detail, and the ability to review and evaluate quality and management systems quickly and effectively to identify where requirements are not being met.
I have recently started working for Pro-Cert as Certification Specialist to gain evaluation and inspection experience. I will have the opportunity to conduct organic inspections as part of my role, and the IOIA processor inspection training will serve to improve my skills to that end. Within the next 2-5 years I intend to move towards inspecting full time, possibly as an independent contractor working for Pro-Cert and other organic certification bodies. I have recently completed the COR producer inspector training and have enjoyed many of the training modules available on the USDA NOP Organic Integrity Learning Center. Taking the IOIA processor training course will complete the set of trainings required for me to become qualified for most organic inspections.
2024 Organic Community Initiative Scholarship Recipient
Wilver Betanco Velásquez, Somoto, Nicaragua
Wilver worked as a phytosanitary inspector for six years prior to his work in sustainable family farm agriculture and farm certification activities. He primarily works in Rural Community Development, including Climate Change and Resilient Production System (CC, Adaptation and Mitigation), with a focus on the empowerment of rural families. General mastery of coffee cultivation. Crop certification schemes.
Wilver currently serves as a technical advisor for an exporter and is responsible for farm certification activities, including preparation of documentary support and advice to producers to have conditions required in different Certification Seals (UTZ, Starbucks, Rainforest Alliance), primarily with coffee farms in the territories of Segovia, Jinotega and Matagalpa in Nicaragua.
He has extensive rural development credentials, including management of community groups and field facilitator for graduate students in the National Program of Technical Education of the Countryside, and holds two Field Master’s Degrees: "Quality of Organic and Conventional Coffee"; and “Evaluation of Beauberia bassiana in Coffee Cultivation".
The Deadline for returning Scholarship applications is October 1.
Scholarship recipients are notified by December 15.