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Territorial Dispatch

Yuba River Endowment Awards $100,000 in Scholarships

Apr 24, 2024 03:52PM ● By Yuba River Endowment News Release
Roger Murray surveys for a Yuba County water infrastructure project. Photo courtesy of Yuba River Endowment


MARYSVILLE, CA (MPG) - The Yuba River Endowment’s 2024 scholarship fund has been increased again to a total of $100,000, including two new special awards named after leaders pivotal to Yuba County’s water infrastructure history.

Last year, the Endowment ended up increasing the total award from $50,000 to $71,500 due to the number of top caliber applicants. This year the initial award was set at $75,000 and was again increased once interviews were complete. Of the 140 applications received, 45 students were selected for interviews, all of which will receive an award.

The awards range from $1500 to $5000. This year’s recipients include 15 college students continuing their studies and 30 current high school seniors – nine from Wheatland High, eight from Marysville High, eight from Lindhurst, four from the Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts and one from Nevada Union High.

“It happened again! We just had so many amazing students apply, it was hard to narrow it down to the 45 we interviewed, and they were all fantastic,” said Yuba River Endowment Board Member, Steve Waltz. "We are also excited to create and award the Merle Collins and Roger Murray special scholarships, honoring two gentlemen who had a profound impact on agriculture in Yuba County.”

The initial Merle Collins Scholarship of $5,000 is awarded to Trinity Duran of Lindhurst High who will be pursuing an education in animal science. Merle Collins moved to the west coast in 1918, becoming the state 4-H club specialist for the University of Nevada, then relocating to Susanville in 1922 to become Lassen County’s Farm Advisor where he helped eradicate tuberculosis in beef and dairy cattle.

In 1929, Collins moved to Marysville and became Yuba county’s Farm Advisor. Collins specialized in developing new products for Yuba County farmers and was also responsible for early water rights filings for irrigation. He envisioned a plan that involved the development of surface water within the county and worked with local districts on the possible expansion of surface water into their areas and enabled them to see the potential benefits. Collins was instrumental in convincing Browns Valley Irrigation District landowners that construction of the Virginia Ranch Dam was needed for storage and water reliability.

 Yuba River Endowment's 2024 scholarship awards include the Merle Collins award and the Roger Murray award. Seen here is Merle Collins at the Virginia Ranch Dam groundbreaking ceremony in 1960. Photo courtesy of Yuba River Endowment


After completion of Virginia Ranch Dam in 1963, Browns Valley Irrigation District held a dedication ceremony in July of 1964 to honor Collins by naming the reservoir Collins Lake.

The initial Roger Murray Scholarship of $5,000 is awarded to Mathew Brockoff, currently attending Montana State focusing on Agriculture Business Management and Water Resources. Roger Murray grew up during the Great Depression, moving to Wheatland in 1948. Murray farmed rice and wheat, then built a dairy called The Marysville Milk Farm, selling milk to Crystal Creamery and hand delivering bottled milk to Wheatland residents and schools. Murray helped start the Plumas Brophy Fire House where local 4-H meetings were held. Murray invented a Cage Wheel Tractor and spent almost two years in Central America teaching farmers how to use it in their rice fields. Upon returning to Wheatland, Murray started a heavy equipment business, building dairies, barns and shops.

Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s Murray was instrumental in building the South Yuba, Brophy Water and Dry Creek Mutual Water Company districts; and completed many projects for the Yuba Water Agency.

Murray was on the Wheatland High School Board of Trustees for 43 years – tying him in 4th place for all time longevity in California school board history. A huge supporter of 4-H and FFA, Murray convinced the Wheatland school board to start the Agriculture Department in 1988. He served as chairman of the Wheatland High Ag Advisory Committee and for the rest of his life volunteered time mentoring hundreds of students. Murray left us in 2016 at the age of 87.

Yuba River Endowment scholarships were open to any Yuba County resident, or any high school senior attending a Yuba County high school, who plans to attend or continue at a trade school, junior college, or college in the fall of 2024. The application window closed January 31st. Interviews were held in late March. Students who were chosen for awards were notified this week and will receive their funds once they submit proof of enrollment for their fall classes.

The Yuba River Endowment is a non-profit organization created by Yuba County farmers to benefit the residents of Yuba County. The Endowment is comprised of farmers who have a right to water that flows on the Yuba River. In some years these farmers are able to both farm their own land and transfer a portion of their water to drought-stricken areas of the state. A portion of the proceeds from these water transfers goes to the Endowment. Since formation in late 2019, the Endowment has donated over $800,000 to support Yuba County ag education, provide food resources, veteran’s support, and much more.

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