Samuel and Martha McKelvie Scholarship

Awards Given

  • Typically 7 per year
    (Up to $1400 per year)

Sam and Martha McKelvie endowed the Sam and Martha McKelvie Scholarships in 1976 for gifted students to advance their studies in Agriculture and Natural Resources and Public Service at the University of Nebraska. This information is offered so that you may become familiar with the wide range of activities and contributions of these benefactors.

Samuel Roy McKelvie, 1881-1956

Samuel R. McKelvie was born April 15, 1881 in Fairfield, Nebraska, the son of Samuel and Jennie (Glandon) McKelvie. He attended the University of Nebraska and the Lincoln Business College before entering the publishing field with the Twentieth Century Farmer magazine in Omaha. In 1904, McKelvie was married to Martha Groves De Arnold. He became the editor of the Nebraska Farmer in 1905, later purchasing and publishing that magazine.

McKelvie launched his political career in 1908 when he was elected to the Lincoln City Council. He served in the Nebraska House of Representatives from 1911-1913, as a member of the Republican Party and as Lieutenant Governor from 1913-1915. In 1918 he conducted a successful gubernatorial campaign and was inaugurated the following January at the age of 37. His two terms as governor were active ones. Under McKelvie’s direction the present state capitol building was authorized and partially funded, the State Constitution was revised, the state government was reorganized under the Civil Administration Code, highway improvement programs were organized and a system of state parks was established.

After his service as governor, McKelvie returned to publishing the Nebraska Farmer. In 1928, he declined an appointment as Secretary of Agriculture in the cabinet of President Herbert Hoover, but the following year he accepted a position on the Federal Farm Board where he served for two years.

In addition to his public service, Mr. McKelvie showed great interest in improving livestock in Nebraska. He maintained a large herd of purebred Herefords on his ranch in Cherry County, By The Way. He served as President of the American Hereford Association. He also participated in many civic and fraternal organizations in Lincoln, including the Chamber of Commerce; Commercial Club; Lincoln County Club; Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; and the Methodist Church.

Mr. and Mrs. McKelvie had a continuing interest in young people and the University of Nebraska. The Sam and Martha McKelvie Scholarships were established to further that interest. The scholarships were designated for students studying in Agriculture and Natural Resources and Public Service because of the McKelvie’s lifelong interest in those fields of activity.

Mr. McKelvie died January 6, 1956 at his winter home near Mesa, Arizona following two heart attacks. He was 74.

Martha Groves McKelvie, 1886-1976

Martha Groves De Arnold was born in Smithville, Missouri in 1887. She and her parents moved to Nebraska when she was five. She graduated from the Lincoln Conservatory of Music in 1903. The following year she married Samuel Roy McKelvie, writer, lawyer and stockbreeder. McKelvie later became Governor of Nebraska, 1919-1923, and after declining a third term in the office, he began the publication of the Nebraska Farmer.

Martha McKelvie taught music at the Lincoln Conservatory of Music after her marriage. The growing popularity of motion pictures led her to become one Hollywood’s first movie columnists, writing profiles of and interviewing Mary Pickford, William S. Hart, Douglas Fairbanks and others. She also wrote scripts for movies and plays.

In 1931 the McKelvie’s bought a ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills, south of Valentine, Cherry County. They settled there in 1935, naming their homestead the “By the Way Ranch.” For some twenty years, they published “By the Way”, a magazine providing articles about ranching, the Nebraska Sandhills and famous people the couple had known.

They sold the ranch in 1953 and took up residence in Arizona. Samuel R. McKelvie died in 1956. Three years later, at the age of 72, Martha McKelvie published the first of her twenty-four books. Several of her fictional works, such as Sandhills Essie, the Hills of Yesterday, and the Fenceless Range, were about the Sandhills region. One non-fiction work, Presidents, Politicians and People I Have Known discussed many of the prominent people Martha McKelvie had known while the wife of a Governor and as a Hollywood columnist.

Mrs. McKelvie, in addition to the McKelvie scholarships was a benefactor of the University of Nebraska by financing the publishing of the University’s Centennial History in 1969 and in that same year she was awarded a Doctor of Humane letters degree.

Martha McKelvie died in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 7, 1976 at the age of 89. She was survived by a daughter, Mrs. Bill Berks of Denver, Colorado.


  • Undergraduate students from all CASNR degree programs are eligible.
  • Current McKelvie scholarships recipients may re-apply.

Application Process

Due Date: April of each year

Download Form

If you have any questions, please contact our office at 402-472-2201.

Award Winners

Hannah Carden
Balin Conley
Kennadi Griffis
Kaianna Hraban
Kaitlyn Krason
Callie McCright
Abigail Schoup
Chase Streeter
Samantha Garcia
Kaianna Hraban
Phuong Minh Tu Le
Alexis Moss
Taylor Nigro
Kirstin Afrank
Kate Asmus
Alaina Kapla
Taylor Nigro
Brighid Welchans
Jennifer Gilbert
Connor McFayden
Nicole Smith
Bryce Christensen
Catherine Berrick
Lindsey LaBrie
Jennifer Reyes