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By Joann Pipkin

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, $464,000 and 429 scholarships have been awarded to qualified applicants.

Now in its 14th 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 2011 recipients are doing now.

Andrew Cauthorn
Andrew graduated in May 2015 from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in agriculture systems management. While at MU, he was president of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and served on the College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources Student Development Board.

Additionally, Andrew interned with MFA and worked at the Beef Research and Teaching Farm.

Currently, he lives in the Mexico, Missouri, area and farms full time raising corn, soybeans, wheat and cattle. He married the former Clarissa Brown in Aug. 2015 and is active in his community serving on the Missouri Farm Bureau State Young Farmer and Ranchers Board and as president of the Audrain County Cattlemen’s Association.

Kathryn Coon
A May 2015 Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Kathryn received her degree in agricultural education. While at MU, she was active in Sigma Alpha, Horticulture Club and the Mizzou Meats Team.

“One of my favorite experiences in college was traveling to Australia for the Mizzou Animal Science study abroad program,” Kathryn explains.

From visiting wildlife centers to a “down under” dairy operation, Kathryn says it was amazing to realize the international impact of our U.S. animal genetics. “Due to technological advancement in artificial insemination, Australia is using many of the same dairy bull pedigrees we are using in the U.S.,” she says. “U.S. agriculture has a global footprint, which was truly amazing to witness.”

Now in her second year of teaching agricultural education at South Shelby High School, Kathryn says her college experiences afforded her a broader knowledge of the ag industry and gave her a deeper understanding of ag production, processing and marketing.

“I have been able to bring this knowledge into the classroom while I continue to build on the knowledge I have gained to help my students be prepared for their future careers.”

Kathryn resides in Shelbina, Missouri.

Benjamin Brown
Benjamin BrownBen graduated from Kansas State University in May 2015 with degrees in agricultural economics and agronomy. Currently, he is pursuing a Masters in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Missouri with an emphasis in policy analysis. A graduate research assistantship with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute is making his graduate program possible, he says.

At K-State, Ben served in leadership roles in Student Alumni Board, College of Agriculture Ambassadors, Blue Key Senior Honor Society, Student Governing Association and Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.

“Serving as president of the College of Agriculture Ambassadors my senior year was something I consider to be a crown jewel during my college experience as those programs tend to be highly competitive while at the same time extremely rewarding,” Ben explains.

During his junior year, Ben was also selected out of a hundred students to be a teaching assistant to Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, who has contributed to every Farm Bill in the last four decades.

“Dr. Flinchbaugh is tough, but fair, and accepting to be one of his teaching assistants was probably one of my greatest decisions thus far,” he says.

Additionally, Ben worked part-time in the Office of the University President his junior and senior years at K-State, serving as a legislative assistant to national and state policies.

“Director of Governmental Relations, Dr. Sue Peterson, became a great mentor to me, and I credit her for smoothing out some of my rough spots and making me a more rounded and professional person,” Ben notes.

In 2013, Ben received the Letter to Garcia Award by the Alpha Gamma Rho-Alpha Zeta Fraternity for outstanding contributions to the chapter and fraternity. Also, in 2015, he was selected outstanding student in the K-State College of Agriculture.

During his time at K-State, Ben also had the opportunity to study abroad, journeying to Brazil in Jan. 2014. The experience focused on food and bio-energy production in tropical environments, and Ben says they visited at least a dozen farms that specialized in unique cropping systems, as well as a sugar cane breeding facility and mill and major universities in the Brazilian states of Rio Grande do Sul and Sao Paulo.

During his two-week stint in Brazil, Ben looked mostly at cropping system variations in how staple crops in the U.S. like corn and soybeans are produced in that country. “Because of the heavy rainfall and the prolonged growing season, producers in that particular area of Brazil are able to grow two corn crops in one growing season,” he explains.

That comes with some added drawbacks, he says, as the soil is depleted of nutrients at a much higher rate and it becomes even more important to have a sound crop rotation in place.

“Most of the farms we visited in the Rio Grande do Sul were in their fiftieth or sixtieth year of straight no till systems, returning as much of the biomass to the soil as possible,” he explains. “Cover crops weren’t a recommendation, but almost a necessity in most of the region as off-season rains cause large-sale erosion.”

Ben says upon relocation to the sugar cane operations in Sao Paulo, they saw how producers had to till their hectares seven to eight times to ensure the previous variety did not re-emerge.

“The biggest difference between the farms we visited in Brazil with some of our own is the attention and care of the physical soil structure,” Ben says. “The soil they use is not to the same productivity level as the black dirt we are privileged with here in parts of Missouri, and that requires them to be extra cautious in their decision making.

Benjamin BrownAs one of the few ag economists on the trip, Ben spent most of his time looking at how marketing crops in Brazil could be improved and how transportation hurdles could be overcome. “In two cases, I figured that these farmers were losing roughly 18 percent of their crop moving from the field to the closest market, which could be four or five hours away,” he says. “Their post-harvest loss numbers were largely due to the rough terrain the truckers had to cross as parts of Brazil have inadequate roads.”

Ben also worked with the Brazilian extension service, which is largely a collective action among groups of farmers. He says their mission is similar to the extension system that is in place in the U.S. While the U.S. has a variety of resources at a farmer’s fingertips, he says Brazilian farmers are not so lucky.

“Overall, it was a great experience, and I would recommend anyone to travel abroad at any point in (his or her) life,” Ben says. “This travel abroad experience certainly opened my eyes to a new culture, and also to a new system of agriculture that I didn’t know anything about.”

The Appleton City, Missouri, native also completed three internships as a student with the K-State College of Agriculture, Monsanto and Agrisync. He says his experience with the college of agriculture helped him network and build connections across the state as he worked in student recruitment. In 2014, his Monsanto internship found him working as a field sales representative for DeKalb and Asgrow in East Central Iowa.

“After graduation in 2015, I interned for a company called Agrisync that specializes in communication channels between producers and local, trusted agribusiness consultants,” Ben explains. “My role within the organization was in product testing, communications, customer service and client management.”

In all, Ben says his internship opportunities helped him gain vast knowledge in leadership and structure as well as personal relations and self-development.

He is expected to complete his graduate work at MU in May 2017.

“To this day, I am still incredibly appreciative of the support FCS Financial provided me, and I know that these scholarships help others just like me, have their own experiences and memories that they wouldn’t give up for anything,” he says.

Mark Carpenter
Having attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, Mark graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in general agriculture, emphasis in agriculture systems management, animal science and agriculture economics.

While in college, Mark was named to the dean’s list five out of six semesters and was a member of the MU football team in 2011 and 2012.

In 2014, Mark joined the family farming operation as a partner with his father and grandfather raising feeder cattle and row crops. He married his wife Ragen in Aug. 2016 and resides in Norborne, Missouri.

“FCS Financial continues to be a great partner within our diversified operation with terrific service and even better people,” Mark says.

Lauren Cofer
Lauren attended Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, and is an Aug. 2016 Magna Cum Laude graduate from DeVry University in Kansas City, Missouri, with a Bachelor of Science degree in technical management, concentration in health service management. She currently lives in Shawnee, Kansas, and is a case manager at ExamOne a Quest Diagnostics company in Lenexa.

Ben Delaney
Ben graduated in May 2015 from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in agriculture systems management. While in college, he was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity and the ASM Club.

As part of a study abroad experience, Ben traveled to Germany where he toured a number of agricultural facilities including Fendt and BMW. Other stops on his journey were the Coburg University of Applied Sciences, the agricultural research center in Berlin, Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau concentration camp, Regensburg, a working farm and dairy operation and Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

Additionally, Ben’s college experience included two internships with Archer Daniels Midland Company in ag services operations management.

“The skills that I learned were how to properly manage and service elevator equipment, how to preserve grain quality and how to handle the day-to-day operations of a grain terminal,” Ben explains.

Currently the grain superintendent at the Corder, Missouri, location of Ray Carroll County Grain Growers, Ben oversees the elevator’s rail loading facility, which handles a full unit train of rail cars.

Nora Dodd
Nora DoddA University of Missouri-Columbia graduate, Nora received her degree in agriculture education, plant science minor, in 2015. An honor student, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 grade point average and was a selected attendee to the Agriculture Futures of America Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, for three years.

Nora studied abroad in Germany for two weeks with the MU Agriculture Systems Management Club studying differences in farming practices. She also interned with Farm Safety for Just Kids as the outreach coordinator for Missouri. In her role there, she educated youth and communities about farm safety. A second internship sent Nora to New Hampton, Iowa, as a safety and marketing/sales intern for Five Star Cooperative.

In her current position, Nora is the agriculture education instructor and FFA advisor at Glasgow High School.

Kaitlin Flick
Kaitlin FlickKaitlin received a bachelor’s in plant sciences-crop management from the University of Missouri. She’s currently set to graduate in Dec. 2016 with a Master’s degree in agricultural education and leadership. Her graduate school research has focused on studying undergraduate’s science knowledge and farm exposure and how it correlates with perceptions of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

As an undergraduate, Kaitlin was active in Sigma Alpha agricultural sorority as well as the MU Agronomy Club. She served as a national officer for the Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences. Additionally, during her sophomore year Kaitlin was a Litton Leadership Scholar, which involved a class that focused on the life of the late Jerry Litton and the impact he made on agriculture and his community.

Throughout college, Kaitlin worked in student recruitment for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) at MU, showcasing the opportunities CAFNR has for prospective students.

kaitlinflick-2-hb-winter-16“I also interned at Missouri Corn Growers Association where I worked to expand association membership with farm visits and field service trips to potential members,” she explains. Additionally, Kaitlin educated consumers on the Renewable Fuel Standard and the EPA’s proposed Atrazine regulation.

As a sophomore at MU, Kaitlin participated in a study abroad program to Germany with the Agriculture Systems Management Club. “We toured John Deere manufacturing plants, German farms, Mercedes-Benz headquarters, a concentration camp and the German castle, Neuschwanstein,” she explains. “The travel bug set in, and I traveled to Swaziland, Africa, on a mission trip the summer before my senior year where I worked in a care point doing vacation bible school programs with children and learned about their community gardens.”

In Jan. 2017, Kaitlin will begin her career as a crop consultant with MFA, Inc., where she will collaborate with growers and help them find agronomic solutions for their farming operations.

Zach Henderson
Having attended college at Missouri University of Science and Technology, Zach initially hoped to study metallurgical engineering.

However, after becoming involved with the student chapter of the American Foundries Society, he was able to meet key leaders in the foundries industry, including the owner of Southern Cast Products with which he now works.

Working as a gating technician for Southern Cast, Zach lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The foundry takes liquid metal, pouring it into molds to form parts. “As liquid metal solidifies, it shrinks,” Zach explains. “So, you have to add additional metal in selected areas to the mold for it to get a casting that doesn’t contain holes.”

In his role, Zach uses simulations and computer aided drafting to predict and create the molds that will be used to ultimately create a final part. He says Southern Cast does rapid prototyping with some parts going back into the agricultural community. The foundry also does a lot of business with the oil and gas industry.

Attending a summer camp at S&T gave Zach his first introduction into engineering. In college, he interned with AK Steele in Ohio and also took part in a co-op program with Southern Cast before working full time.

Zach plans to head back to college to finish his degree in mechanical engineering in Fall 2017 at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Aaron T. Luther
An agricultural economics major at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Aaron graduated Summa Cum Laude in Dec. 2014. While at MU, Aaron was active in the ag economics club, the sustainable agriculture club and also volunteered at the Bradford Research Center and Jefferson Farm.

In 2013, Aaron took part in a study abroad program in Germany where he toured Berlin farms and a John Deere plant through the agriculture systems management program at MU.

Currently a staff auditor for Central Bank in Jefferson City, Aaron lives in Columbia.

Dustin Stanton
Dustin StantonAn agricultural business major at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Dustin graduated in Dec. 2014. While at MU he was active in Collegiate Farm Bureau, the MU Entrepreneurs Club and also participated in activities through his county Farm Bureau, Missouri Young Farmers and Young Farm Wives and FFA Alumni.

Dustin was named the American Star in Agribusiness by the National FFA Organization in 2014 and also participated in FFA’s New Century Farmer Program.

Through National FFA, Dustin traveled in 2012 and again in 2015 to Costa Rica. He took part in an overseas learning opportunity to Japan through Collegiate FFA in 2014.

Dustin says his 2012 trip to Costa Rica was his first opportunity to ever travel outside the U.S. “That alone was a life-changing experience,” he says.

The Centralia, Missouri, native found it interesting to compare the Costa Rican culture to that in this country. “Agriculture in Costa Rica relies more on hands-on labor,” Dustin explains. “Here, one farmer can farm thousands of acres and there it’s more specialized agriculture, focusing more on the simple things in life and making the most of every plant and every acre.”

Dustin says U.S. farmers, too, focus on making the most of every plant and every acre, but our risk is more spread out and our production strategies are different.

While in Japan, Dustin was able to gain a unique experience that helps him in his current role as co-owner of Stanton Brothers Eggs.

“There, if any food says ‘G-M-O’ it won’t sell,” he says. “Food there must be labeled accordingly if it contains a GMO (genetically modified organism) and that parallels what is happening in the U.S.”

As a co-owner of Stanton Brothers Eggs, Dustin — along with his brother Austin — manage 20,000 free-range hens, making the operation the nation’s largest independent free-range egg producer. The business supplies 50 outlets in mid-Missouri.

“I’m very grateful for having received a scholarship from FCS Financial,” Dustin says. “One of the best things you can learn from college or any experience is networking.”

Sadie (Kinne) Steele
sadiesteele-hb_winter-16Sadie is a May 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in agriculture education. While at MU, she was active in Sigma Alpha, a professional agriculture sorority, and served as professional development chair and community development chair. She also was an American Royal Scholar and served on the College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) Student Development Board. Additionally, Sadie was honored with outstanding ag education award all four years.

During college, Sadie worked at the Missouri Beef Industry Council, the Mizzou Meat Market and the CAFNR Office of Advancement. She took part in a study abroad experience to New Zealand during her sophomore year at MU. There, she studied viticulture, dairy cattle and other local agriculture.

“It was very beneficial for me to travel outside of the United States to help me understand that there is more to this world than just the U.S.,” Sadie explains. “We were able to learn the variety of ag practices used in a different climate and landscape than Missouri. The trip definitely opened my mind about the broad spectrum of agriculture in the world, how trading is conducted from country to country, and how big of an impact that the U.S. has in the world and in the ag industry.”

Sadie also notes that the experiences helped her share a personal experience to high school students to help encourage them to strive to study abroad as well.

During college Sadie was also the ag education intern for Missouri Farm Bureau and the sales and marketing intern for Intellifarms.

Currently an ag education instructor at Diamond R-IV High School, Sadie says she’s a northwest Missouri girl gone south. She married Austin Steele in May 2015 and the couple lives in Neosho.

“One of the most beneficial aspects of college was gaining a never-ending network of individuals in the ag industry,” Sadie says. “I gained a great education, however knowing a variety of people can never be too helpful in any path that your life takes you.”

Zach Watts
Zach WattsA Dec. 2014 graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, Zach earned a degree in agricultural business.

While at NWMSU, Zach was active in Collegiate FFA, Farm Bureau and earned his American FFA Degree.

“I helped on the family farm throughout college and continued to learn about farming practices,” he explains. “I started working at Green Hills Ag, an equipment dealer, where I learned a lot about business and farm equipment. This job also gave me the opportunity to do nearly everything possible in a dealership. It helped me shape my future and understand how to manage as well as sell.”

Zach married his wife Carla in July 2016, and the couple lives in Dalton, Missouri. He and Carla own a farm, in addition to helping his dad on the family operation. Zach is also a territory manager for Willcross Seed.

“Whether equipment, seed, chemical or even feed and nutrition for livestock, customers are looking to you for answers and help to assist them with their livelihood,” Zach says. “It is not just a simple recommendation; it requires knowledge of the product and how it performs for each individual customer and how it works on their farms.”

Zach says in his role with a seed company, he has had to learn to work with non-GMO and organic farmers. “These farmers are growing conventional corn and beans which is something that has not been done on our farm in nearly 20 years,” he explains. “Therefore, some of their rules and regulations were something I did not know. It is hard to tell customers ‘I don’t know’ for an answer. That is why it takes more than the average business person to work in agribusiness today.”

From marketing to management, Zach is grateful for the knowledge his college experience brought him, thanks in part to his FCS Financial Scholarship. “It has helped me by making decisions on my own farm as well as those at my job with Willcross.”

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