Where are they now? Catching up with FCS Financial’s 2012 Scholarship Recipients

January 9, 2018 | Categories: HeartBeat Magazine, Scholarships & Awards

FCS Financial’s board of directors implemented a program in 2003 to encourage and support higher education for children or grandchildren of FCS Financial customers.  Since its inception, more than half a million dollars in scholarships have been awarded to 460 qualified applicants.

Now in its 15th year, FCS Financial’s scholarship program annually distributes up to 35 scholarships of $1,500 each. Funds were first distributed in 2004.

FCS Financial is committed to supporting the agricultural youth of Missouri. As a cooperative, this scholarship is one of the ways FCS Financial gives back to its members and supports communities.

Here’s an inside look at what some of the 2012 recipients are doing now – five years after graduating high school.

Savannah Angell – Centralia
Savannah AngellA December 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in animal science, Savannah was active in Collegiate Cattle Women and held an internship with Missouri’s Cattlemen Foundation while in college.

In addition, she spent a summer working at the Hermann Wurst Haus learning about food service and meat processing. Savannah received the MU Division of Animal Science’s Top 10 Senior Award in 2015.

“I was lucky enough to be a quick 30 minute drive to Boonville where I worked at my family’s livestock market during school,” she said.

Savannah said she’s extremely grateful to the College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) for their study abroad program options and support to participants.

“I have always loved traveling and decided sometime in my middle school years that study abroad was the most amazing thing about college,” she said. “Fast forward a few years, and I jumped at the chance to spend a semester in New Zealand. I was lucky to make friends from all over the United States, and I even lived in an apartment with girls from Norway and France.

New Zealand is a tiny country next to Australia, and due to its small size and location the country focuses on premium, branded products, Savannah said. “For example, they can’t compete with the volume of wool produced by Australia, but the “New Zealand Wool” label is sure to pop up as a promise of quality on $20 wool socks here in the U.S.,” she noted. “For small, beginning agriculturalists like me, this quality first approach is applicable.”

Savannah said her academic education laid the foundation for her current job in her family’s business. “I think the professors and peers I met at school were the best part of my experience,” she said. “I have been quite lucky to have several MU faculty offer to help or provide resources as I get started in my working life.”

As the office manager at her family’s Missouri Valley Commission Company in Boonville, Savannah said she often sees more cattle than people while on the job. She also backgrounds cattle with her grandfather, writes a column in the monthly Cattlemen’s Advocate newspaper and helps manage a small trucking operation.

In the future, Savannah hopes to focus on expanding her business, Savannah’s Farm Fresh. Working with FCS Financial to do that, she markets locally raised beef in mid-Missouri.

“I love the idea of raising cattle from pasture-to-plate, and I think our local communities have a lot to gain from this kind of operation,” she said. “From buying feed at Shelton’s Seed or spending processing dollars at Center Locker Service, I think keeping our money local does a lot of good.”

Savannah lives in Centralia with her dog, Bear.

Erin Christopher – Cameron
Erin received an associate’s degree before attending North Central Missouri College’s dental hygiene program and graduating in 2016.

Currently a dental hygienist at Brooks Family Dentistry in St. Joseph, Erin received the Missouri Dental Hygiene Most Outstanding Student Award at graduation.

In the future, Erin would like to further her education and is considering a career working with animals. She resides in Kidder, Missouri.

Mallory Early – Leeton
A May 2015 graduate of Missouri State University, Mallory received her bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications, minor in photography. She continued her education at Iowa State University pursuing a master’s in agriculture education with an emphasis in communications.

At both universities, Mallory was active within the agriculture, photography and design programs. She was a member of Block and Bridle Club, Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow and Photography Club and was a teacher’s assistant for an agriculture presentations class.

“My passion is agriculture photography, and both universities had wonderful photography programs that provided unique opportunities to learn about different methods of photography that are not used in the agricultural industry,” Mallory said. “I was able to create a portfolio that I am proud to show to anyone.”

Currently, Mallory is employed with Liveauctions.tv where she travels the United States broadcasting livestock sales on the Internet. She also owns her own photography business.

“I get to meet many new people within the livestock industry and help them market their livestock,” she said. “With Liveauctions.tv, I work with a lot of technology and getting my degree in communications prepared me to work with a variety of technologies. I also learned a lot about marketing and helping farmers market their livestock the right way.”

Mallory also said that being able to take a variety of photography classes opened her eyes to different techniques that she might not otherwise have been able to learn.

“Now that I’m out of school I have more time to build my photography business,” she said. “I am getting to use my photography skills to help farmers promote their livestock. I am so grateful for how much my business has grown in the past six months.”

Mallory’s future goals include becoming known as one of the best livestock photographers in the country. She is also expanding her cattle operation raising Simmental and SimAngus. Currently Mallory resides in south central Iowa. She’s engaged to Layne Robinson. In December, both will begin working on a Red Angus farm in the area.

Rachel Echternacht – Leonard
A May 2016 graduate of Truman State University, Rachel received a B.S. degree in accounting and finance, minor in agricultural business. She pursued a master’s degree in accountancy and graduated in May 2017. In addition, Rachel passed four certified public accountant exams this past summer and is currently completing her year of work experience to earn her CPA license.

Rachel EchternachtAt Truman State, Rachel was a member of Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity where she held a number of leadership positions and participated in events to help herself grow both professionally and personally. She attended several leadership conferences across the country, learning from professional speakers. She also assisted with a variety of community service events including Relay for Life, Up ’til Dawn and Junior Achievement.

Rachel was selected to join Beta Gamma Sigma, a business honor society reserved for students with a GPA in the top 7 percent of the incoming junior class. Through her involvement, Rachel represented Truman State’s collegiate chapter at a Global Leadership Summit in Orlando, Florida.

While in college, Rachel received two internships with Monsanto’s finance department.

“The first was with their consolidations and external reporting teams where I helped prepare their 2015 third quarter financial statements as well as corresponded with Monsanto leadership across the globe for projects in India, Mexico, Canada and Switzerland,” she explained.

In her second internship with Monsanto, Rachel worked with the company’s program management team where she helped analyze data to identify areas where their marketing programs could be simplified and standardized.

“While my classes were helpful in preparing me for the real world, the extracurricular activities I was involved with were truly what helped build me into the person I am today,” Rachel said. “The experiences I had with Delta Sigma Pi allowed me to grow as a professional. I learned many things about the business world and business etiquette through the organization that I would never have learned in a classroom.”

Additionally, Rachel said her internships were crucial to her current role. “Through the internships, I was able to do real work and proved that I was capable beyond the classroom. It also gave me perspective into what kind of career I would like to pursue, such as starting my career in private accounting instead of working for an accounting firm.”

Currently a cost analyst in Monsanto’s crop protection division, Rachel resides in Creve Coeur.

Caleb Heid – Harrisonville
Caleb completed his undergraduate degree at MU in May 2016 with a degree in biochemistry. He received minors in biology and agriculture leadership. He’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in genetic counseling through the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.

At MU, Caleb worked for the Office of Disabilities as a test proctor where he helped students with varying degrees of ability take tests in a controlled setting.

“Sometimes, I simply provided a distraction-free environment for students with ADHD and other times I took a more active role such as reading for patients who were blind or writing essays for students with neuromuscular disorders,” Caleb explained.

In addition, Caleb was active in the Christian organization, Beta Upsilon Chi, which stands for Brothers Under Christ and is a Christian fraternity in Mizzou’s Greek system. The fraternity has approximately 50 active members. He served as the fraternity’s chaplain and as president while at MU. Caleb also spent a year serving at a local crisis hotline, manning phones and visiting with people who just needed someone to talk to.

Caleb took part in two internship opportunities while in college. The Hughes Research Apprenticeship paid for his employment in the Archaeometry lab, which allowed Caleb to analyze archaeological samples.

“Our lab analyzed the ratio of each element in a shard of pottery,” he said. “Using this ratio, we were able to pinpoint the exact geographical location of any piece of pottery from anywhere in the world. We used the technique to analyze migration patterns of native tribes in South and Central America.”

Caleb’s second internship placed him at a counseling center in Lee’s Summit. There, he helped manage the phones, listen to client needs and schedule appropriate counselors. He spent two weeks in Houston, Tex., and the Colorado wilderness on a leadership retreat as part of the experience as well.

Currently, Caleb is seeking a master’s degree in genetic counseling. He hopes to become a genetic counselor, which is someone who helps parents of children and also adults who are diagnosed with genetic conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis and hemophilia.

He said genetic counselors offer general genetic education and explain the risk of inheritance or passing the condition on to future children. They also connect patients and parents with advocacy groups or resources specific to their genetic condition.

“Genetic counseling relies heavily on communication, empathetic and scientific abilities,” Caleb said. “My two internships, leadership roles in my fraternity, volunteer experience, job and classes at Mizzou all helped me build these skills.”

Caleb is on track to graduate in May 2017 and plans to return to Missouri to work in a hospital with a genetics clinic.

James Henry – Asbury
Having attended Crowder College in Neosho for a year following high school graduation, James returned home due to family health issues. After working for a time in the family’s operation, Turkey Creek Farms, James now operates his own business which hauls poultry feed ingredients to area feed mills.

The Asbury native married his wife Ronnie in 2015. The couple has a daughter, Kenlee, who will be a year old in early 2018.

Ryan Korff – Sarcoxie
Ryan received his associate’s degree in livestock production in May 2014 from Crowder College. He currently works in the family’s 240-cow dairy operation near Sarcoxie with his father and uncle. There, Ryan coordinates equipment maintenance and repair in addition to breeding the cows by artificial insemination.

While in college, Ryan was a member of Post-Secondary Agriculture Students organization and the Crowder College Aggie Club. He married his wife Abby in March 2016 and eventually hopes to take over the family’s dairy farm.

Dylan Massa – Lamar
Following high school graduation in 2012, Dylan attended Fort Scott Community College in Kansas where he studied animal science with an emphasis in reproduction.

After graduation in 2014, he returned to the family farm. He bought his grandfather’s share of the operation in 2012, and in addition to farming with his dad, Dylan manages his own trucking business hauling cattle.

Dylan’s farming operation includes 270 to 300 mostly Angus cows as well as a 2,700-head nursery hog operation which he built in 2016 with a loan through FCS Financial.

In 2015, Dylan was one of four finalists for American Star Farmer through the National FFA Organization. He resides in Lamar.

Ryan Messner – Stanberry
Ryan MessnerA May 2016 graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, Ryan received a degree in agricultural business. While in college Ryan served as the Area 1 state FFA vice president. He also participated in National FFA’s New Century Farmer Program and was a member of NWMSU’s collegiate FFA and Farm Bureau. Currently, Ryan is a secretary of Gentry County Cattlemen’s Association, serves on the Gentry County Extension Council and is president of St. Peter’s Parish.

Ryan said an internship with the Gentry County Farm Service Agency while in college opened a number of doors for his future. As a result, he was hired in FSA’s County Operations Trainee program. Currently, he is the county executive director of the Holt County Farm Service Agency. He also manages his own farming operation that includes raising corn, soybeans and cattle.

In the future, Ryan hopes to raise a family amid his home community of Stanberry.

Ben Niendick – Wellington
Ben NiendickAn ag systems management major at MU, Ben graduated in May 2016. While there, Ben was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. He won a national FFA proficiency award in agricultural sales and was a national finalist for FFA’s Star in Agribusiness.

Ben studied abroad in Germany through MU’s CAFNR. “I learned there’s much more to farming than I thought,” he said. Connections he made at MU, he said, continue to help him even today. His experiences not only expanded his knowledge, but also gave him a behind-the-scenes look at agriculture.

Today, Ben is back home in Wellington. He purchased a farm while a junior in college and continues to help his dad in his operation. In addition, Ben markets straw to construction companies and farm and home stores. He’s a fourth generation FCS Financial customer.

Jaelyn Bergmann Peckman – Perry
Jaelyn attended the University of Missouri, obtaining a B.S. degree in 2016 in agricultural education with a Missouri Secondary Teacher certificate. She’s currently pursuing a Master’s of Science in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University via a distant learning program.

At MU, Jaelyn was an active member of Sigma Alpha professional agricultural sorority where she held the offices of second vice president and fundraising chair. She was awarded the chapter Pillar Award by the sorority for service.

Jaelyn Bergmann PeckmanAdditionally, while in college Jaelyn served as state president of Missouri FFA and traveled across the state encouraging the organization’s members to become involved. She was Missouri’s candidate for National FFA office in 2014.

Jaelyn was awarded the CAFNR Top 10 Outstanding Senior award and CAFNR Outstanding Junior award. She also participated in the John Brown, Dickinson and Jerry Litton Leader Scholar programs and attended the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference each year while in college.

As an undergraduate student, Jaelyn traveled to Beijing, China, for a study abroad experience focused on Chinese pork production and its culture.

Jaelyn participated in a variety of internships while at MU, including one where she implemented leadership development programs for approximately 200 Missouri FFA campers during each of the six weeks of FFA camp.

“I spent a summer working closely with CAFNR staff as a summer welcome peer counselor where I delivered presentations to more than 600 incoming CAFNR students and assisted students in registering for classes,” Jaelyn said. “The Missouri Department of Agriculture was home one summer as I interpreted market reporters and informed radio listeners of daily market reports as a market news intern.”

She said that living in Trenton for her student teaching experience was valuable as she was able to plan and deliver lessons and gain a sense of what it’s like to be a high school agricultural education instructor.

“I am very thankful for the various opportunities to learn through study abroad and internships,” Jaelyn said.

Currently a high school agricultural instructor and FFA advisor at Paris R-II High Schools, Jaelyn also taught one year at North Callaway R-I. She hopes to bring as much real world application to the agriculture classroom as possible.

Jaelyn and husband Ty Peckman were married in 2016 and recently purchased a home in Centralia. Ty is pursuing his Ph.D. in animal science at MU.

Ashley Gerlemann Schowe – Hermann
Ashley attended East Central Missouri College for 18 months before transferring to Central Methodist University where she studied business management. She graduated in December 2015.

Currently, Ashley works in the family business in New Haven that repairs tractors, equipment and tires. Her future plans include eventually taking over the business.

She and husband Craig Schowe were married in 2016. The couple also has a row crop operation.

Landon Steele – Miller
A December 2016 graduate of Missouri State University, Landon currently uses his degree in hotel and restaurant administration in his career at Hollywood Casino in St. Louis as a food and beverage supervisor. While in college at MSU, Landon interned at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach.

Landon’s interest in the hospitality industry was sparked as a child through a number of travel opportunities his family experienced while visiting family on the East Coast. “I found I wanted to show others a hospitable atmosphere,” Landon explained.

In the future, Landon aspires to one day become a general manager of a resort.

Jessie Fowler Tribble – Vandalia
A May 2016 graduate of MU, Jessie received a B.S. degree in agribusiness management, agricultural leadership minor.

Jessie Fowler-Beef QueenWhile attending MU, Jessie served in a variety of leadership roles through the CAFNR Ambassadors, CAFNR Student Council and Zou Crew organizations. Additionally, outside the university, she was involved in ag industry associations serving as the Missouri Beef Queen and Missouri Pork Ambassador as well as participating as a finalist in the Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador and Missouri State Fair Queen competitions.

“During my college career, I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad in Reading, England, for one semester,” Jessie said. “At the University of Reading, I encountered many learning experiences which undoubtedly shaped my love for travel and appreciation for other cultures. (It was) hands-down, the most memorable semester, and I am grateful for the knowledge and friendships I gained from my study abroad experience.”

Jessie said her time at MU helped prepare her for a job at MFA, Inc., by learning most importantly how to communicate effectively.

“Thanks to Linda Sowers, I greatly enhanced my business writing skills,” she said. “Email is likely the number one tool used in businesses today, yet very few emails are truly read and understood by the intended audience. Learning to write in a manner all will understand and get the message across is a necessity for our busy lifestyles.”

In her current role as supply operations marketing specialist at MFA, Jessie works with division managers to implement marketing campaigns. In the future, she hopes to continue serving farmers and ranchers by being a member of an organization that strives to bring the most technologically advanced products to the market to help agriculturalists be better stewards of the land.

Jessie and Derek Tribble were married in October and reside in Columbia.

Samantha Gibson Turner – Norborne
Samantha graduated from MU in 2016 with a B.S. degree in agricultural education and leadership, minor in agricultural economics. After graduation, she returned to MU to further her education and this past August, she received a Master of Science degree in agricultural leadership, communication and education.

Samantha Gibson Turner and Ryan Messner

Samantha Gibson Turner (second from
left) and Ryan Messner (third from left).

After serving as a Missouri State FFA officer at the beginning of her college education, Samantha continued her work with the organization as a LEAD facilitator, a HYMAX team leader and volunteered at Missouri FFA Convention. In 2013, she received the American FFA Degree.

During her collegiate career, Samantha was active in MU’s CAFNR where she served as a peer career coach and ambassador. She also was involved in Sigma Alpha, a professional agricultural sorority. Additionally, Samantha was a Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador during her collegiate career. Having been selected for the Dickinson and John Brown Scholar programs, Samantha explored agribusinesses throughout the state.

Samantha experienced several internships while in college that she said helped enhance her knowledge of the agricultural industry. “My first internship was with the Missouri Soybean Association (MSA), working in public relations and writing for the Missouri Soybean Farmer magazine,” she said.

In 2016, Samantha returned to MSA as their biodiesel outreach intern. She worked as a summer intern at Missouri Farm Bureau and Osborn & Barr Communications, creating promotional pieces to educate audiences about the ag industry. During the academic year, she worked on MU’s campus in CAFNR Career Services and as a contractor, writing curriculum for Vivayic.

Samantha was able to discover agriculture in different countries through a study abroad experience in Europe, which took her to Germany and Italy.

“In Germany, we focused predominately on agricultural systems visiting implement dealerships such as Fendt,” Samantha explained. “Overall, the experience was a full immersion into German culture, and showed us how our agriculture differs.”

Samantha said the experience in Italy revolved around topics such as world hunger, food insecurity, and food loss and waste. Her journey took her to the University of Bologna, The Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Currently, Samantha works as the communications manager on the food and nutrition team at Monsanto. There, she’s responsible for the development and implementation of communications strategies for the team. She supports team engagements through the creation of agricultural toolkits and additional educational literature. Specifically, she said she supports the narrative and develops stories about food relations topics, including food loss and waste, production and security.

Samantha is married to Sam Turner, and the couple resides in Ellisville, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis.

Logan Wheatley – Rich Hill
A December 2016 graduate of MU, Logan received a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography with an emphasis in geographic information systems and geospatial intelligence.

While at MU, Logan was active in GTU Geographic Honor Society and Mizzou Geography Club. He also worked his last two years of school for a program supported by the MU College of Engineering and the Geography Department.

Logan said the Center for Geospatial Intelligence (CGI) is a research and development-based facility on campus focusing on several areas of geospatial technologies such as satellite, airborne and ground-based remote sensing; high performance computing for geospatial data analysis; automated feature extraction; change detection; pattern recognition; machine learning; video processing and surveillance; and human geography and modeling.

“This was most definitely a unique learning opportunity which provided me with hands-on experience in the field of study I was entering and the type of work I might be doing in the future, as well as form a connection with my current employer,” Logan said. “This work provided me the necessary experience to bridge the gap between being a student and entering this type of career after college.”

Through CGI and the Department of Geography, Logan was able to obtain his USGIF Geospatial Intelligence Certificate in addition to his degree.

Following graduation from MU, Logan accepted a position as a geospatial analyst at Harris Corporation in St. Louis where he currently lives.

According to Logan, Harris supports both government and commercial customers as a leader in tactical communications, geospatial systems, air traffic management, environmental solutions, electronic systems and space and intelligence. “I currently work as part of Harris’ geospatial solutions team in support of contracted work on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Foundation GEOINT Content Management (FGCM) Program, which provides a variety of geospatial data products that support ongoing military and intelligence operations.”

“I am extremely grateful for the support FCS Financial provided in my education to get me where I am today,” Logan said.

Grant Wheeler – Hardin
Grant attended Northwest Missouri State University graduating in December 2015 with a degree in agricultural business and a minor in agricultural finance.
At NWMSU, Grant was a member of Collegiate Farm Bureau, and he graduated with honors.

“I embraced an internship in the summer going into my sophomore year,” he explained. “I worked as a Pioneer seed dealer in Carrollton.”

Grant continued working for the Pioneer dealer for the next two summers. He assisted with seed treatments and soil sampling in addition to counting for insects, weeds and improper use of pesticides.

Currently, Grant is employed at Ag-Power, Inc., in Richmond as a parts salesman. He also manages a small cow-calf operation and owns a car and equipment detailing business.

Grant resides in his hometown of Hardin, and his future goals include returning to work on the family farm with his dad, uncle and grandfather. He also wants to expand his cattle operation and start a corn and soybean operation of his own.

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