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Written by Joann Pipkin

Giving back to its members and supporting communities. That’s what FCS Financial’s scholarship program is all about. Committed to supporting the agricultural youth of Missouri, in 2003 FCS Financial’s board of directors implemented the program to encourage and support higher education for children or grandchildren of FCS Financial customers.  

Now in its 19th year, FCS Financial’s scholarship program annually distributes up to 35 scholarships of $1,500 each. Funds were first distributed in 2004. To date, more than 600 qualified applicants have been awarded $722,000 in scholarships. Applications are available on the FCS Financial website at and are due in our office March 1, 2022.

Here’s an inside look at what some of the 2016 recipients are doing now. 

Deanna Bates — Holts Summit

A native of Holts Summit, Deanna Bates attended Missouri State University (MSU), where she received a bachelor's degree in animal science in December 2019. 

Deanna Bates

During her time at MSU, Deanna was active in Collegiate FFA, Pre-Vet Club and Delta Tau Alpha, an agricultural honors society, serving as the group’s secretary. She also earned her Beef Quality Assurance and Grazing School certificates. She participated in MSU’s Agricultural Industry Tour, which took students on a journey of ag-related agribusinesses through Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. 

“Agriculture is so much more than just livestock and crops,” Deanna explains. “It is a diverse industry that takes the effort of all involved working together to provide the world with quality products while being good stewards of the land.”

Deanna is currently in her second year as a veterinary student at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine located in the Caribbean on the island of St. Kitts. There, she serves as parliamentarian of student government, SAVMA. She is also a member of the student chapters of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Equine Practitioners, and Christian Veterinary Fellowship. 

While a beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea is where Deanna presently calls home, her future plans include returning to the family’s large and small animal veterinary practice as an associate veterinarian to her father, Dr. Dean Bates. 

Lindsey Feise — St. Paul

Lindsey Feise is a May 2020 MU graduate with a degree in agriculture business management. While in college, she was a member of Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority where she networked with other women in the agriculture industry and grew professional skills that have benefited her in starting her own career.

Alongside her sorority sisters, Lindsey volunteered with a local Columbia food bank while at MU. She was also active in Mizzou Collegiate Cattlewomen. She took part in a grain merchandising internship with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Curran, Illinois.

“Some of my learning included rail transportation, the basics of elevating grain and communication skills with producers and other commercial elevators,” Lindsey explains. “I went on many farm visits where I learned how to effectively assist producers in their marketing plans and build a relationship with them. Along with that, I learned the basics of the futures market and the many factors that influence the grain markets.”

The opportunity helped the young ag leader prepare for the workplace after college, she says. 

As a grain merchandiser for ADM’s corn processing facility in Columbus, Nebraska, Lindsey currently resides in Lincoln. She plans to continue her career in grain trading and travel to other parts of the Midwest to learn more about the industry.

Derrek Hardy — Browning

Derrek Hardy at graduation

Derrek Hardy graduated from MU in May 2021 with a bachelor's degree in agricultural education and hospitality management. While at MU, he was a student manager at MizzouRec. He also participated in several activities including Mizzou Tour Team, Homecoming Steering Committee, Alumni Association Student Board, Litton Leadership Cohort, Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa Secret Society, Eta Sigma Delta Hospitality Honor Society. Derrek was also a summer welcome orientation leader and a member of the 2019 Mizzou Homecoming Royalty Court. He was an honors scholar and graduated magna cum laude. Additionally, he was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Excellence Award, the American FFA Degree and MizzouRec Employee of the Year.

Internship experiences sent Derrek to the Mizzou Alumni Association as a True Tiger Sales Intern as well as the Mizzou Office of Advancement-Alumni Relations department. He also was a marketplace intern for FCS Financial. 

A key learning opportunity for Derrek was an undergraduate research project for the CAFNR dean where he observed the student experience within the college. He also conducted research involving the Missouri hospitality industry and how the university can better serve hospitality students within their courses and opportunities offered.

“I gained knowledge on how to conduct a proper research study and analyze data to create reports and outcomes that can be used by others,” Derrek explains.

Derrek Hardy at Corteva

As part of the Litton Leadership Scholar Cohort, Derrek embarked on the yearlong leadership development experience for undergraduate students in CAFNR. As one of only 20 members in the cohort, he says he learned how to be a better leader in his surrounding community and carry-on Jerry Litton’s leadership legacy.

Through the Dickinson’s Scholar’s Program, Derrek took part in a professional opportunity run through the CAFNR career services office that allows students to network with professional businesses in the Kansas City and surrounding areas while learning about the vast array of opportunities. 

“I was able to become better prepared for my future career during these experiences and gain a better understanding of what I wanted my future career to be,” Derrek says. “It also allowed me to expand my professional network while gaining hands on experience that I was able to apply within the classroom and in everyday life.”

Currently an associate territory manager with Corteva Agriscience, Derrek works in the urban pest management division in the company’s western district in Houston, Texas. He will be relocating once he receives his own sales territory within the company. He also plans to continue pursuing his education and receive his master’s degree.

Logan Korff — Norborne

Lorgan KorffA native of Norborne, Logan Korff earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural systems management with minors in agricultural economics and plant sciences from MU. He graduated in May 2020.

While at MU, Logan was an active member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and served on the Mizzou Homecoming Steering Committee. He was also a Mizzou Homecoming Royalty Top 30. 

Learning opportunities found Logan studying abroad in Germany in addition to taking part in a sales internship with Pfister Seeds and at the Louis Dreyfus ethanol plant in Norfolk, Nebraska. 

He explains, “The most beneficial element that I gained from these experiences, and college in general, is perspective. It opened my eyes to other cultures and methods of learning. I learned how to make decisions and navigate the world in environments that were out of my comfort zone. 

Logan adds that the experiences allowed him to grow as a person and armed him with the tools to be a better version of himself regardless of the task at hand. 

After graduating from MU, Logan returned home to Norborne to farm alongside his father and grandfather in their corn and soybean operation. He plans to continue making the operation the most efficient and productive it can be for generations to come. 

In September 2021, Logan married his high school sweetheart, Abby (Bertz) Korff.

Andy Mink — Stewartsville

Andy Mink graduated from Kansas State University in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science degree in milling science and management. 

While at K-State, Andy was involved in Collegiate Farm Bureau, Cattlemen’s Club, Milling Science Club and St. Isadore’s Catholic Church. He says the activities afforded him opportunities to travel to annual conferences throughout the country.

During his senior year in college, Andy traveled to Greenville, South Carolina, as part of the university’s forage bowl team, placing second in a field of 18. He also worked in the campus butcher shop where he honed his meat-cutting skills.

An internship the summer before his junior year at K-State sent Andy to Mt. Olive, Illinois, to work for Mennel Milling Co. of Illinois. 

“That was truly an awesome experience working with some excellent people,” Andy says. “I am so thankful to have had that opportunity. The number of good opportunities that exist for a young person that is willing to work are truly overwhelming.”

The Covid-19 pandemic made it difficult for Andy to pursue his original career plans, but he says he found enjoyment through working in the construction industry and plans to build his future around that. He is currently building his fifth new home. 

Andy resides in Stewartsville and plans to stay in the area while continuing to grow his construction and farming businesses.

Carrie Otte — Ste. Genevieve

Carrie Otte

A May 2021 magna cum laude graduate from the College of the Ozarks, Carrie Otte received a bachelor's degree in agriculture business. 

While at C of O, Carrie was employed at the school’s beef farm where she says she learned the importance of clarity in communication and all aspects of raising and managing beef cattle.

Carrie was also active in C of O’s Collegiate Farm Bureau, serving as vice president and president of the organization. She also received several awards while earning her degree, including: 2019 Beef Farm Smith and Oetting Award; 2020 Jay L. and Ferne D. Wilder Work Award (campus wide); and 2020 Dr. Roy Johnson Beef Farm Award; 2021 Bartlett Respect Award (campus wide); 2021 Herbert Berg Work Award (campus wide); and 2021 Endowed Agriculture Award (across all agriculture workstations). 

As a member of the school’s livestock merchandising class, Carrie helped prepare cattle for C of O’s production sale. She also took part in Agriculture Future of America roundtable discussions from 2018 to 2020 and was a Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference participant in 2020. 

In 2020 Carrie was a field research technician intern for Field Screen LLC. Through the experience she assisted in preparing plant test plots, collected data for stand counts and root digs, assisted in maintaining plots, helped set up and monitor irrigation for corn and soybean plots, and assisted in harvest.

“Hands-on experience is important regardless of the field you want to go into,” Carrie explains. “Working hard and making a good impression can help you find the job of your dreams.”

Following her internship with Field Screen, Carrie was offered a similar position with the company and continued in that role through Nov. 2021. This winter she will take on a full-time role with Gateway FS, a locally owned agricultural cooperative serving farmers in western Illinois and St. Genevieve County Missouri. She resides in St. Genevieve and helps manage her family’s Angus cattle operation.

Natalie Potter — Clarksburg

Natalie Potter

Natalie Potter attended State Fair Community College in Sedalia where she studied nursing. As an R.N., she currently lives in Columbia and works at the University of Missouri specializing in orthopedics. She is working toward her bachelor's of nursing degree and plans to continue her education in nursing.

Clayton Robinson — Center

Center native Clayton Robinson graduated from MU in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in agribusiness management. 

At MU, Clayton was involved in Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, serving on its executive board. In addition, he was a member of the Litton Leadership Scholars Cohort, the Mizzou Homecoming Steering Committee, Mizzou Outreach and ODK Distinguished Freshman. 

While Clayton’s planned study abroad trip to Germany was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he was able to travel to Costa Rica on an agricultural study trip. He also took part in three ag sales internships during his undergraduate studies as well as a training program immediately after graduation. His internship experiences found him working in crop protection sales for Valent in Illinois and Wisconsin and in digital ag sales for Monsanto/Climate in eastern Nebraska. Clayton also interned for Bayer Crop Science, earning seed sales experience while working in western New York and crop protection sales in central Texas. 

“There is an ocean more to agriculture than what I knew growing up,” he explains. “I was very involved in the family farm growing up but had no idea how agriculture varied across the U.S. or the world. These experiences deepened my passion for agriculture because I saw it for what it does — clothe and feed the entire world. The internships also gave me depth of knowledge in specialized sectors which prepared me well for my career.”

Clayton currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he works for Bayer Crop Science as a DEKALB Asgrow field sales representative for southern Michigan and northern Ohio. 

Colton Spencer — Aurora

Colten Spencer with cattle in pasture

After earning a bachelor's degree in agricultural education from MU in May 2020, Colton Spencer started his career as a range and pasture specialist for Corteva Agriscience in northeast Texas. Colton operates a 38-county sales territory consisting of 10 distribution and more than 200 retail locations. In his role, he evaluates pasture conditions, identifies weed species, provides product recommendations, and develops land management plans for local producers. Additionally, he coordinates yearly field days to showcase and drive demand for new pasture herbicides. 

During his time at MU, Colton was active in the College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) True Tiger Organization and CAFNR Ambassadors. He also worked for the CAFNR career services office and served as a summer welcome peer counselor. He received the CAFNR Outstanding Junior Award in 2019.

Colton Spencer spraying grass

At the conclusion of his junior year at MU, Colton took part in an internship in the Pasture and Land Management Division of Corteva Agriscience. As part of the experience he supported, developed and executed key launch tactics for DuraCor Innovation Showcases in Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. Additionally, Colton created a market analysis of impregnated fertilizer opportunity, including a map of current customers using dry fertilizer impregnation with GrazonNext and DuraCor. 

“I gained a variety of new skills and expanded my knowledge of the agriculture industry through my internship with Corteva,” Colton explains. “I learned how to effectively communicate with customers and explain how our product lineup can benefit their livestock operation. I built connections with fellow employees and customers across the Midwest. Lastly, I learned how to position key products and drive demand for new innovative tools such as a new pasture herbicide.”

Colton currently resides in Sherman, Texas.

Marissa (Surber) Wetzel — Chillicothe

Marissa Wetzel attended Missouri University of Science and Technology where she majored in environmental engineering and minored in biology. She graduated in May 2020.

Marissa (Surver) Wetzel

While at Missouri S&T, Marissa was an active member of the Christian Campus Fellowship, a part of Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority and a campus-employed tutor. She traveled with her home church to Detroit, Michigan, for a week-long service-based mission trip. Marissa also represented Livingston County for the Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador Program at the organization’s 2017 annual meeting. 

Marissa is the recipient of an award and scholarship from the American Water Works Association, and graduated magna cum laude. She helped chaperone a high school biology club trip to Costa Rica taken by Chillicothe High School students. The experience focused on learning about the country’s biodiversity and agritourism.

As an intern for the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Marissa worked for 2 ½ years as a hydrologist assisting with research and keeping real-time data on the natural surface and ground waters across the state. 

“I learned a lot about the water resources the state of Missouri works with and how important it is to be able to constantly monitor the flow and quality of that water and get that information out to the public,” Marissa explains. “Many Missouri farmers rely on groundwater wells for irrigation and homeowners across the state are affected by flood conditions.”

Marissa (Surver) Wetzel at graduation

As part of the experience with USGS, Marissa says she also embraced several technologies and computer software programs that not only monitor the safety and quality of the waters in the state, but also help predict water levels and availability at different times of the year. 

“I also learned proper field safety and research techniques while collecting data all over the state,” she says.

Today, Marissa works as a full-time wastewater project engineer for Bartlett & West, a private engineering firm, in Lawrence, Kansas. In that role, she helps with the designs of several types of wastewater improvement projects such as planning underground sewage collection system repairs, upgrading wastewater treatment plants, improving municipal technologies to control sewer system odors and corrosion, and designing wastewater treatment plants that will convert biogas produced by degrading waste into pipeline-ready renewable natural gas.

Marissa and her husband, James Wetzel, reside in Lawrence, Kansas, She hopes to eventually move back to Chillicothe and continue working as an environmental/water resource engineer.

Iris Wormington — Monett

Iris Wormington

After first attending Crowder College in Neosho, Iris Wormington went on to study poultry and animal sciences as well as agriculture business at the University of Arkansas. She is a December 2020 UA graduate with a bachelor's degree in Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences. 

While at Crowder, Iris was active in the Crowder Aggies club as well as Missouri Professional Agriculture Students, serving as president of both organizations. At UA, she was involved with the UA Cattlemen’s Association, Poultry Science Club and Sigma Alpha Professional Sisterhood. She was also a member of Delta Tau Alpha and Gamma Sigma Delta agriculture honors societies and spent time working with different professors and graduate students on research projects.

“The hands-on learning in these labs helped fortify the instruction I received in the classroom,” Iris explains.

Iris received multiple awards while in college, including Crowder College Outstanding Agriculture Department Graduate, Dale Bumpers Outstanding Transfer Student and U.S. Poultry Foundation Outstanding Student of the Year in 2020. She was named to the Chancellor’s List several semesters during her undergraduate studies, was recognized as a senior scholar, and was recently named a Razorback Classic, an annual award given to the top 71 graduating seniors to honor the year 1871 — the year the university was founded. 

During her time at Crowder, Iris also had the opportunity to attend travel seminars conducted by the school’s agriculture department. The experiences sent the Monett native to study in Hawaii, Costa Rica and Texas. 

“This domestic and international travel opened my eyes to similarities and differences between products local to southwest Missouri,” Iris says. “For example, beef production in Missouri looks a lot different than beef production in Costa Rica.”

Iris Wormington during her internship

Input efficiency, rate of gain, stocking density and market fluctuations are just a few of the industry commonplaces that differ around the globe, she says. 

“Seeing beef in this light is advantageous because it allows producers to think critically and creatively about how to improve their own operations,” Iris explains.

As an intern with Cobb-Vantress, a broiler-breeder genetics company in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, Iris was able to better understand her classroom education through real-world application. It further helped her to think strategically about the future needs of the poultry industry, she says. 

“Learning is more organic, and frankly more fun, when it takes place outside of the confines of textbooks and exams,” Iris says. “My travel and work experiences always leave me with a truer sense of the minutia within any system of operation. This perspective allows me to think through problems and concepts in a broader scope.”

In her current role, Iris says her experiences have afforded her better collaboration, which helps her save time and eases the learning curve of cross-functional work.

Iris currently works on the supplier quality and safety chicken team for Chick-fil-a, Inc., where she cooperates with poultry suppliers to ensure the availability of safe, healthful, and consistent supply of products for the company’s restaurants. 

While Iris currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, she eventually would like to work her way back home to the family’s century farm. 

“I plan to continue my part in supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers to bring safe and affordable food to a growing population,” she says.

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