“Urban America does not understand how essential agriculture production is to their livelihoods.”
Carissa Dalquest, Wilsey, is passionate to change that.
“I want to explain how farmers and ranchers supply food for this nation while managing the land for future generations.”
Recent valedictorian graduate of Council Grove High School, Carissa’s foresight goal is to tell agriculture’s important story.
“While I’ll be heading to college in a few days, I’m uncertain exactly where my studies will lead me,” Carissa admitted. “Still, I’m certain with my strong heritage in agriculture, I want to relate that to the rest of the world.”
Recipient of more than a dozen higher-education scholarships this spring, Carissa Dalquest most recently received the Gordon Morrison Scholarship.
“I appreciate the generosity of so many organizations providing financial assistance to further my education,” Carissa said. “To receive this stipend from Gordon Morrison is truly very close to my heart.”
Presentation was made personally by Gordon Morrison at his Morrison Ranch south of Concordia in Cloud County. His wife, Janet, had prepared a celebration dinner before Carissa read one of Morrison’s stories included in his book.
A copy of the book featuring “The Learning Post” stories Morrison wrote weekly for 25 years was presented to Carissa. “I cherish this inspirational book Mr. Morrison has compiled revealing his strong faith through agriculture production and education,” Carissa acknowledged.
“The Gordon Morrison Scholarship was established in 2008 to assist Council Grove graduates furthering their agriculture education,” said Clair “C.B.” Smith.
“There have been 18 recipients of the scholarship,” continued Smith, who was responsible for initiating the scholarship.
“It is funded by Mr. Morrison’s former vocational agriculture students, as well as many longtime friends,” Smith added.
Raised in the Four Mile farming community south of Council Grove, Gordon Morrison taught vocational agriculture for 15 years. During that time, Morrison also served as advisor of the Council Grove FFA Chapter.
“The chapter was recognized as not only one of the best in the state but throughout the nation,” Smith said.
Collecting widely varied major agriculture competition awards, the chapter was perhaps best known for developing future agriculture leaders.
“Students from Mr. Morrison’s vocational agriculture classes have continued lifelong leadership in agriculture,” Smith credited. “Many are farmers and ranchers in the local community as well as serving major agricultural services around the country.”
Due to Morrison’s success as a high school agriculture instructor, he was approached to teach at Cloud County Community College. “In 1969, Mr. Morrison moved his family to Concordia and taught agriculture to college students until 1990,” Smith said.
Despite stress of losing two wives, Jean and May, Morrison raised three daughters Kathy, Beth, and Laura. He continued to build his personal ranch taking early retirement from teaching at 60-years-old to fulfill that lifetime goal.
Slowed down some now at 93-years-old, Morrison still operates the large diverse ranching operation with dedicated assistance from wife Janet.
While involved in agriculture production, Carissa Dalquest is most recognized in the local community for her service and leadership. “I enjoy helping others whatever the cause for betterment of all lives,” she said.
A leader in FFA, 4-H, FLBA (Future Business Leaders of America), and FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), Carissa is a public communicator. She has received state and national awards for her speaking and writing abilities.
“I think it is important to be able to get up in front of others to tell agriculture’s story,” Carissa said. “As importantly, it is essential to relate about agriculture in written form for reference and archive.”
She has written stories published over a wide area about agriculture and the organizations she serves. Carissa’s communication future was enhanced by editing the school newspaper and an internship at the Council Grove Republican.
Following footsteps of her Morris County family’s livestock tradition, Carissa has shown champion cattle and hogs from locally to nationwide.
Through those experiences, Carissa has become a most proficient livestock evaluator. She has won livestock judging events on all levels.
“I enjoy evaluating every species of livestock and have even had the privilege of judging horses in national competition,” she noted.
Interests go beyond agriculture as Carissa has claimed honors in both business competitions and style revue events.
“One is not taken seriously if they’re not professional in every aspect of what they do,” Carissa commented. “I am conscientious in how I present myself in dress and mannerisms whatever I do.”
Interesting to point out that Carissa is also a star athlete participating in school sports highlighted by being a champion golfer.
“My family has always been interested in sports too,” she said. “I started playing golf, enjoyed it and had some success. I see playing golf throughout my life as complement to my work in the agriculture profession. It is a great sport for both physical and mental improvement.”
Considerable credit is expressed by Carissa to all her family for her achievements.
“My mom and dad, Clay and Lori Dalquest, and my sister Cassidy as well as my grandparents on both sides have been so helpful,” Carissa said. “I really appreciate them and everybody else for all they’ve done and continue to do for me.”
Near future, Carissa will attend Butler Community College, El Dorado, competing on the livestock judging team while majoring in agribusiness.
“I then plan to transfer to a four-year college, likely Kansas State University,” Carissa said. “I want to continue competing in livestock judging while double majoring in animal science and agriculture communications.”
Reiterating her indecisive future career plans, Carissa recognized, “My options include ag law-policy, communications, marketing, and ag education. I am excited to take advantage of opportunities offered in college to find my best fit.
“The value of rural America must be realized and appreciated by everybody. I intend to do my part to make it become reality,” Carissa Dalquest stated emphatically.