Olaf and Grethe are immigrants from Norway. Together they managed a family farm in the Block 40 area of Moses Lake Washington for 44 years. They mainly grew alfalfa hay and wheat but tried other crops as well from 1956 to 1990. Olaf and Grethe’s two children Iver and Karen both graduated from WSU, Iver with a degree in Agronomy, with a Minor is Agricultural Mechanization, and Karen with a degree in Criminal Justice. Iver’s four children all attended and graduated from WSU. Their family farm is currently under the management of their son Iver.
Olaf Odegaard was born in Rodenes Norway in 1922. He was the eldest son of five children. He attended school until the age of 14, and then worked on the family farm. At the age of 19 he attended two years of Agricultural School. He helped with the Norwegian Resistance during WWII when Norway was occupied by Germany for 5 years. In 1951 Olaf immigrated to the United States and landed out west. He worked a few jobs and eventually began farming land in Moses Lake that had just become part of the Columbia Irrigation Project and by 1966 he purchased the farm.
Grethe Ekern was born in 1931 in Lillehammer, Norway. She was the middle child of 3 children, and enjoyed life growing up in her beautiful mountain town. After completing high school, she spent a year working in London England, and traveled a bit around Europe. In 1955 Grethe moved to Seattle and found work in a bank. She met Olaf in Ballard, a Scandinavian Community of Seattle in 1956.
Olaf and Grethe married in 1958. They set up their life on the farm in Moses Lake, and began carving out a living in the rocky, not so easy to farm land, known as Block 40. They raised many crops, some more successful than others, tried their hand at cattle and sheep ranching, and eventually with a lot of hard work made a success of their farm. Olaf and Grethe were both Naturalized as US citizens in 1963. They loved their new country but hold a large piece of Norway in their heart. Olaf passed away in 2017, and Grethe is still living in the family farm house. Many today who visit the farm often say it is like visiting Norway in the Pacific Northwest desert. Olaf and Grethe believe in the value of a strong work ethic, education. and their goal with this scholarship is to help local WSU Agriculture students achieve their goals and dreams.
The distributions from this Fund shall be used to support students who are studying Agriculture, or a related field. Students must be a high school graduate from Moses lake, WA, in junior or senior standing, and have a 3.0 GPA or better. This scholarship may be renewable.