Keeping the vision alive
WILLMAR -- A Willmar man has launched a multi-national effort to raise awareness of soil and water management that will continue three decades of work started by his brother, who was killed when an airliner was shot down in Ukraine.
WILLMAR - A Willmar man has launched a multi-national effort to raise awareness of soil and water management that will continue three decades of work started by his brother, who was killed when an airliner was shot down in Ukraine.
Drew Ryder, president of Feedlogic Corporation in Willmar, said his extended family hopes to raise $100,000 in a student scholarship fund in partnership with the University of Western Australia and the Department of Agriculture.
Ryder’s brother and sister-in-law, Arjen and Yvonne Ryder, lived in Australia. They were both killed in the July 17 crash of Flight MH17.
Arjen Ryder had worked 30 years for the Department of Agriculture in Western Australia in the areas of soil and hydrology, Drew Ryder said in a news release.
“Arjen had a passion for his work. He loved the land and people working in it,” Ryder said. “He also had a large vision for long-term sustainability in agriculture.”
Ryder said his brother spent years “patiently devising more sustainable and profitable farming practices” and focused on the issue of dryland salinity.
His work led to the adoption of a variety of management options such as revegetation, saltland agronomy, perennial pastures and deep drainage, Ryder said.
“Many of these strategies could also be adopted in other parts of the world where salinity and poor soils are threatening agricultural output,” he said in a brief interview. “What he worked on in Australia is not unique to that part of the world.”
Ryder said issues of irrigation, land use and yields are things farmers in west central Minnesota understand very well.
“Water is a big deal,” he said. “How we manage water in agriculture is going to become more and more import as we move forward.”
Although the scholarship is currently targeted for students attending the University of Western Australia, Ryder said he hopes the efforts will also promote awareness and inspire research for soils and hydrology in the United States with private industry, academia or government entities.
“I would love it if we could inspire similar types of scholarships and programs in the United States,” he said.
Ryder said his dream is that the work his brother began will result in a collaborative “meeting of the minds” and information-sharing between countries so that agricultural yields improve to “help feed a hungry world.”
Ryder said the purpose of the scholarship isn’t to turn his brother into a “hero.”
That’s the last thing Arjen would have wanted, he said.
“Arjen was a person of faith, humble, content with working hard behind the scenes and not seeking credit for his achievements,” Ryder said.
But he wants his brother’s efforts to be recognized and hopes that it inspires others to continue the work.
Online contributions to the scholarship fund can be made by going to:
Select the “Scholarship in Memory of Arjen Ryder” under the student support section of designated giving. All U.S. donations are tax-deductible through a 501(c) entity that the University of Western Australia has in the U.S.