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Source: BASF and the National Agricultural Aviation Association joint news release

Three up-and-coming agricultural pilots were awarded scholarships sponsored by BASF and the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) to help them turn their dreams of becoming professional agricultural pilots into reality.

Kole Pederson of Crookston, Minnesota; Richard Conrad of Kiel, Wisconsin; and Heidi Stoeppler of Bakersfield, California, were awarded NAAA/BASF Agricultural Aviation Scholarships of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000, respectively, and were honored during the 47th Annual NAAA Convention and Exposition kickoff breakfast today in Reno, Nevada. Stoeppler is the first female recipient of the NAAA/BASF Agricultural Aviation Scholarship.

The scholarships are part of a longstanding partnership between BASF and NAAA to support the futures of students pursuing careers in the aerial application industry. Each year, two budding pilot trainees are awarded a scholarship; however, this year, three deserving applicants were selected.

"These passionate aviation students exemplify what it means to work hard and follow your dreams," said Gary Fellows, Ph.D., Technical Market Manager, BASF, and member of the National Agricultural Aviation Research & Education Foundation's Professional Aerial Applicators' Support System (NAAREF PAASS) Program Development Committee. "The scholarships offer the students an opportunity to pursue their goals and continue to move towards becoming invaluable members of the aerial application industry."

Pederson is enrolled in the University of Minnesota, Crookston, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in aviation with an emphasis in agricultural aviation. He holds a private pilot certificate and tailwheel endorsement from the University of North Dakota Aerospace Foundation.

To qualify for the Agricultural Aviation Scholarship, applicants have to be sponsored by an NAAA member operator. Pederson was sponsored by Tom Rongen of AgriMAX LLC in Fisher, Minnesota.

Conrad is enrolled in the Fox Valley Technical College's Aircraft Avionics program. He holds a private pilot certificate and tailwheel endorsement, as well as a Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCAP) Commercial Applicator's License. Dean Heimermann of Countryside Aviation LLC in Chilton, Wisconsin, sponsored him.

Stoeppler is training with the Bakersfield Flying Club as she builds time toward her private pilot certificate. She is sponsored by Jon Slikker of Vince Dusters in Bakersfield, California.

"BASF has been a major supporter of NAAA over the years, and we appreciate their continued commitment to supporting the long-range growth of the agricultural aviation industry," NAAA Executive Director Andrew Moore said. "The grant that allowed us to establish the Agricultural Aviation Scholarship has helped ensure that the pipeline remains well stocked with competent and capable professional ag pilots."

BASF is committed to the agricultural aviation industry
BASF continued its support of the NAAA Annual Convention and Exposition in Reno as a platinum-level sponsor, which also included sponsoring the kickoff breakfast. In addition to this sponsorship, BASF works with NAAA and NAAREF year-round to increase applicator safety and other industry advancements.

In 2013, BASF continued sponsoring the Operation S.A.F.E. (Self-Regulating Application and Flight Efficiency) Incentive Program, which encourages aerial applicators to participate in Operation S.A.F.E. fly-in clinics offered around the country.

During these fly-ins, applicators work with trained analysts to test equipment, boost performance, increase applicator knowledge and stay up to date with legal requirements and certifications. In 2013 alone, 361 aircraft had their calibration checked at 57 fly-in workshops held across the U.S., enabling aerial applicators to increase the safety of their aircraft.

In addition to these programs and partnerships, BASF continues to help advance the aerial application industry by developing fungicide chemistries labeled for aerial application. In recent years, BASF developed Headline AMP® fungicide, a combination fungicide specifically developed for corn growers who want maximum protection from foliar disease, as well as improved Plant Health benefits.

In 2012, BASF introduced Priaxor® fungicide for soybeans, which provides longer-lasting disease protection, consistent performance and Advanced Plant Health benefits.

"At BASF, it's our goal to help growers get the most out of every acre," Fellows said. "We appreciate partnering with industry leaders like NAAA to support aerial applicators who have the same goal."

For more information on BASF Crop Protection products, visit, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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