Meet the recipients of this year’s POET Never Satisfied Scholarships
POET’s Never Satisfied Scholarship program was founded in 2016 to recognize and reward students who share POET’s never-satisfied mentality, ingenuity, and drive to change the world. Never Satisfied Scholars display what it means to work hard and persevere by taking positive change into their own hands — and we couldn’t be prouder to support them in their endeavors.
There are no major or GPA requirements to receive the scholarship, and those selected truly exemplify what it means to be “Never Satisfied.” Somehow, the students seem to become more impressive and more intelligent each year, making the process of narrowing down the pool of thousands of applicants even more challenging. That’s why, this year, the program was expanded to include two additional scholarships. This change increased the total scholarship funding to $60,000, with 12 university students awarded $5,000 each to put toward their education.
We can’t wait to see what these bright young people will accomplish in the years ahead. Now, without further ado, let’s meet our Never Satisfied Class of 2022!
Hometown: Ormond Beach, FL
School: Brown University
Majors: Environmental Studies and Biology (Pre-Med)
Salma Eldeeb is a trailblazer. She has never shied away from an opportunity to help her community. At a young age, she noticed pollution in the Nile river and knew her community and their health relied on the river. She researched Egypt’s air and ocean pollution, as well as the environmental causes of frequent hospitalizations in her community. She helped start Egypt Goes Eco, an organization that helps reduce pollution in the Nile River. She is currently the Deputy Director of Zero Hour (a youth-led climate organization). She plans to attend medical school for psychiatry and find a career at the intersection of her passions for mental health and climate activism.
Hometown: Royalton, MN
School: North Dakota State University
Majors: Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering
Simon Kroll is not one to be content with the status quo. While the COVID-19 pandemic forced much of the world online, he assisted in implementing a system on his farm that would provide better and faster Wi-Fi for his family and other local farms. He also designed a retrofit kit for his farm’s irrigation system. In college, his internships consisted of a startup called Field of View, where he worked with GPS data, and as a software engineering intern at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Kroll already has a lot of expertise and experience under his belt, and we look forward to watching him achieve his goal of developing technology to help farmers lower their carbon score while optimizing their yields.
Hometown: Eugene, OR
School: University of Oregon
Major: Landscape Architecture
Brier Turnbull used her 2020 quarantine as an opportunity to learn a new, unique skill: beekeeping. She used creative problem-solving to overcome the obstacles a beginner beekeeper might face, like setting up a hive, treating mites, and harvesting honey. Brier plans to use that same creative mindset to pursue a career in urban planning. She knows the value of vegetation in a city as a solution to reducing air pollution and lowering city temperatures and wants to advocate for cities to implement urban growth boundaries and more sustainable expansion plans.
Hometown: Des Moines, IA
School: Iowa State University
Major: Human Physiology
From an early age, Grace Koch sought opportunities to volunteer with the elderly. She became an in-home elder caregiver and served those elderly in need in her community. She wants to help transform the way the world views elderly populations and educate younger generations about retirement and what it looks like to be an aging adult in America. Koch plans to use her degree to continue to care for others, particularly the elderly, and help them adjust to the transitions that life brings.
Hometown: Wiota, IA
School: Iowa State University
Major: Agricultural Studies
Nathan Behrends is a rapid, hands-on learner. During a study abroad trip to Costa Rica, Behrends was inspired to see a country that could provide enough resources for its entire population. He brought that inspiration back to his university courses and wants to use his career to collaborate and connect with farmers around the world to continue to develop precision farming. Behrends wants to help further sustainable practices in agriculture while continuing to increase yields as a solution to the growing need for food and biofuels around the world, and we’re happy to support him in his goals.
Hometown: Rowland Heights, CA
School: Washington University in St. Louis
Majors: Biochemistry and Healthcare Management
Rather than being defeated in the face of adversity and loss, Breanna Yang made the courageous decision to push forward and change the world. She founded Bryson’s Sunshine Foundation, a non-profit in honor of her brother’s memory, and channeled her determination into sharing Bryson’s story, raising money for pediatric cancer research, and carrying on Bryson’s legacy of generosity and care for others. Yang hopes to continue the latter by dedicating her career to pediatric oncology, where she can foster a practice of compassion and support for her patients and their families.
Hometown: Salem, SD
School: South Dakota State University
Major: Agricultural Communications
Already a passionate advocate, Ella Stiefvater dreams of using her communication skills to spread awareness about agriculture’s importance to America and the world. Her goal is to become an expert in ag communications, potentially becoming a news anchor or reporter. She understands that farmers and ranchers are not the only people that need to stay updated on new and advancing opportunities, and she wants to educate others on the vast potential of agriculture. Stiefvater already has the drive to get outside of her comfort zone to make a change — a trait that will take her far in her aspirations.
Hometown: Emery, SD
School: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Innovation and leadership: two words that describe Mercedes Mesman. She gives her all, whether it is leading her SD Mines cheer leading team as their captain, working at her local hospital as a phlebotomist, or getting her biomedical engineering degree. Several members of Mesman’s family have congenital heart disorders. This has motivated her to get a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, so she can learn to develop artificial organs that are affordable and safe for those who need transplants. She is never satisfied in her desire to care for those who are most in need, especially those closest to her.
Hometown: Shoreline, WA
School: Princeton University
Majors: Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Public Policy
Driven to enact the change she wishes to see in the world, Yubi Mamiya is an ambassador for others. She created the “We the Future” exhibit providing students a place to make sustainability pledges and goals. Mamiya also represents her community as a King County Clean Water Youth Ambassador, an executive for the Washington Legislative Youth Advisory Council, and co-founder of the Washington Student Representatives Network. She had the opportunity to write and lobby legislation into law to provide mental health resources to Washington students. Mamiya plans to use her degrees and experience to connect those in need with high-quality healthcare services.
Hometown: Timnath, CO
School: South Dakota State University
Major: Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Dedicated to the development of precision agriculture practices, Justin Ackerman wants to expand the artificial photosynthesis process. An active member of South Dakota State’s School of Engineering club, Jackrabbit Baha team, and the Quarter Scale Tractor club, Ackerman is developing the skill set necessary to supplement agricultural practices with new, innovative technology. He wants to combine his love of farming with his passion for engineering and help farmers navigate the complexities that precision agriculture is bringing to modern-day farms.
Hometown: Sonoma, CA
School: University of California – Berkeley
Major: Environmental Engineering Science
Joseph Silvi takes sustainable living to the next level! From implementing a garden both for his family and his church to starting a compost pile for food waste to designing his own chemical reactor to make biodiesel from leftover vegetable oil to power his car, Silvi’s aspirations truly make him a force to be reckoned with. Devoted to caring for others and the planet, Silvi finds resourceful solutions to the challenges we face today right in his own backyard — and we can’t wait to see them implemented all over the world.
Hometown: Pella, IA
School: Dordt University
Major: Agricultural Studies
Having grown up on a farm, Ben Vos is well-versed in agriculture and conservation. A member of the Iowa Corn Growers Collegiate Advisory Team and the Iowa Soybean Association Soy Squad, Vos strives to be an advocate for agriculture and biofuels. He wants to educate others about the benefits of biofuels and, like POET, believes that agriculture is a key solution in the fight against climate change. He believes that individuals like himself can be catalysts that excite and educate others about the potential that farming has to continue to change the world, and we
couldn’t agree more!