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By Joann Pipkin

In 2003, FCS Financial’s board of directors implemented a program to encourage and support higher education for children or grandchildren of FCS Financial customers. To date, $411,500 and 394 scholarships have been awarded to qualified applicants.

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 rural and 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 2010 recipients are doing now – five years after beginning their higher education journey.

Kelsey Arnold

Kelsey is a December 2013 graduate of Western Illinois University with a degree in finance. While earning her undergraduate degree, she was an active member, and now alumni, of Delta Sigma Pi, an international professional business fraternity. She served as the fraternity’s vice president of awards and scholarships.

In the summer of 2013, Amanda interned for Marcus Sykora State Farm. She put her Property and Casualty license to work there, learning the ins and outs of the insurance industry. Currently, Kelsey works at Cathy Early State Farm and is training to be a State Farm agent. She hopes to some day own an insurance office and work as an agent. She resides in Kahoka, Missouri.


Travis Ball

Travis started his college career at Crowder College in Neosho, graduating from there with an associate’s degree in general agriculture. He is currently attending the University of Arkansas and is set to graduate in December 2015 with a bachelor’s in crop science and a minor in agricultural business.

While at Crowder, Travis was vice president of the Aggie Club and competed in events through Postsecondary Agriculture Students (PAS) as well as the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) organizations on both the state and national levels. He was a member of the third place agronomy team and winning quiz bowl team at National PAS, and was on the eighth place agronomy team and third place quiz bowl team at NACTA. Additionally, Travis made the Dean’s list and while at U of A has been an active member of Thrive Student ministries, serving as a group leader.

An agriculture travel seminar class took Travis to Costa Rica for 10 days, where he studied different avenues of agriculture including coffee, water buffalo and pineapple.

“Where I’m from, I’m used to seeing corn fields and cattle,” Travis recalls. “Down there you get bananas. I actually got to pull a load of bananas by harness down a rail, which is how they transport them to be cleaned and packaged. There are no machines.”

Travis says he especially enjoyed hearing the passion that Costa Ricans have for their livelihood and the hard work they put in despite their technological disadvantages.

“That trip really opened my eyes and showed me how blessed I am to be a part of rural America,” he says. “Granted, there’s still a lot of hard work involved. I don’t worry about harvesting corn by hand or hauling it out of the field by harness. I hope that I will be able to make an impact in the ag industry and carry on my family’s tradition of farming after graduation.”

In addition to his Costa Rican journey, Travis worked for two summers with LG Seeds as a sales intern, traveling across Southwest Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico.

Travis hopes to secure a career in agribusiness or crop industry.



Melanie Barnett

A May 2014 graduate of Northwest Missouri State University with a degree in agricultural education and a minor in animal science, Melanie is currently the agricultural education instructor at Northland Career Center in Platte City.

While at NWMSU, Melanie worked at the Nodaway County Senior Center as an office assistant in addition to participating in activities through Collegiate FFA and Delta Tau Alpha where she served as treasurer. In addition, she co-founded the university’s Block and Bridle cattle show.



Brent Boland

Brent is a December 2014 graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in animal science. At ISU, Brent participated in the livestock evaluation and meat animal evaluation teams. He earned high individual honors at the 2013 National Barrow Show, was second in placing at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and was third overall at Ak-sar-ben contest.

Currently, Brent is a feed consultant for Ralco Show Feed and a customer service representative for Heimer Hampshires after having worked for both part-time while in college. He lives in Sweet Springs and also helps with his family’s row crop operation.



Brendan Borman

Brendan graduated from the University of Missouri in May 2014 with a degree in parks, recreation and tourism. During college, he volunteered with Mizzou Athletics in football, volleyball, swimming and golf to gain experience in his field of study. He was also active in Mizzou Students for Christ where he met some of his best friends. During his senior year, he created art that was sold in Quirks, a student consignment store.

Also during his undergraduate work, Brendan completed internships with Columbia Golf Foundation (CGF) and the Lincoln University Athletic Department, where he gained hands-on experience. CGF is a non-profit organization, introducing the game of golf to children in Columbia and surrounding areas.

“While interning at CGF, I managed their social media platforms, produced fundraising opportunities for the organization, and my favorite part was hanging out with kids while they learned such a challenging sport,” Brendan says. CGF sponsors the Columbia High School golf programs.

For his senior capstone, Brendan completed a 16-week internship with Lincoln University working with compliance and game-day operations. He is engaged to Skyler Lankford with a May 2016 wedding planned. Licensed in the lines of property, life and health, Brendan works as an insurance agent with an independent agency in Fulton. He resides in Kingdom City.



Kayla Bridgman

The equine facility manager for North Central Texas College, Kayla attended Black Hawk College in Illinois and West Texas A&M University, earning a bachelor’s in equine industry and business in May 2014.

Kayla served on the horse judging team at both colleges where her teams were named world champions at the American Quarter Horse Association World Show. She also competed on the intercollegiate horse show team at both schools.

An internship with Lambert Performance Horses in Colorado while she attended Black Hawk furthered Kayla’s horsemanship skills as she worked with barrel horses in the rodeo industry.

She currently lives in Gainesville, Texas.



Whitney Coats Davis

Whitney Coats Davis Whitney Coats Davis

Mission adventures have taken Whitney to Ethiopia, Cambodia and Nicaragua since receiving her FCS Financial scholarship.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree in biology, Whitney journeyed to Ethiopia and Cambodia through Southwest Baptist University.

“In Ethiopia, we worked with an organization called Blessing the Children International,” Whitney explains. “They are a sponsorship program that helps provide funding for children to go to school and supply basic necessities for impoverished families.”

In addition to supplying basic necessities, Whitney says she helped teach English in schools and made home visits, encouraging families by sharing scripture, praying and listening.

A country devastated by genocide in the 1970s, Cambodia also has a very dire need for clean water, Whitney notes. “Our team from SBU traveled to different villages to clean wells and install lids with pumps on them so wells would not be contaminated.”

In each village, the group attended schools, teaching hygiene and the benefits of clean water. “It was very astonishing how very little they knew about hygiene and how to prevent illness,” Whitney explains.

Whitney’s medical mission to Nicaragua was through Global Health Outreach, and the group set up a health clinic in a very rural village for one week. “People walked for miles to see doctors and dentists at no cost,” she explains. A pharmacy and station to test vision and deliver eyeglasses was also established. “We also taught lessons about health to a nearby school. This trip was a great example of providing very tangible needs while spreading the gospel and meeting spiritual needs as well.”

Whitney attended classes at SBU for three years before being accepted into the veterinary medicine program at MU. She’s now in her third year there and began the clinical portion of her training in October. On track to graduate in May 2017, Whitney plans to work in a rural area as a mixed animal practitioner. Married, Whitney also participated in the veterinary research scholars program where she researched the effects of exercise on heart failure using a miniature swine model. She’s a member of the student chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Bovine Club.



Nathan Eagleburger

Having earned bachelor degrees in animal science and agricultural business, Nathan graduated from Missouri State University in May 2014. At MSU, he was active in Block and Bridle Club, Collegiate FFA and Collegiate Farm Bureau. He also interned with Genex Cooperative as a collection assistant.

In the fall of 2014, Nathan worked for Advanced Deer Genetics on a two-month project doing artificial insemination, collection and embryo transfer on deer in 12 states.
Nathan now co-manages the family farm near Buffalo.



Kayla Frederick

Kayla had been pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural education and leadership prior to August 2015 when she was severely injured in a car accident while working as a delivery driver for O’Reilly Auto Parts.

She was on target to graduate in May 2016.



Garrett Gutshall

A December 2014 graduate of the College of the Ozarks with a degree in agricultural business and a minor in accounting, Garrett works as an office manager for West Central AgriServices in Chilhoweee. While in college, he spent a summer in Council Bluffs, Iowa, working an internship for Bartlett Grain. Because each C of O student is required to work 15 hours a week for the school, Garrett put his learning to work in the school’s landscaping department and at its feed mill.

Garrett moved back home to Adrian following graduation and got married this past June.



Landon Held

Landon attended MU, earning a degree in finance and banking as well as political science. As a graduate student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., seeking a degree in international affairs, Asian security studies, Landon hopes to one day help improve both business and diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China.

“During my time at MU, I had an opportunity to establish the International Business Association, aimed at students who are passionate about international business,” Landon explains. Seventy members joined the organization in its first semester of operation, providing several students with international internship opportunities.

Landon worked an international financial internship at the ABB Corporation in Xiamen and experienced cultural travel around the country. He says the journey inspired him to begin learning Mandarin-Chinese, a goal he continues to pursue today.



Christopher Hudson

Christopher Hudson Christopher Hudson

A May 2014 graduate of MU with a degree in agricultural education, Christopher is in his second year as the agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor at Bowling Green High School. In addition, he operates Triple C Cattle Company near Middletown, raising registered Angus cattle and club calves, and is a Channel Seedsman for Hudson Ag Services, working closely with growers in Lincoln, Pike and Montgomery counties to add value to their farming operations. This includes product selection and field monitoring. He also assists with his family’s row crop operation in Lincoln County.

While at MU, Christopher was on the livestock judging team and was a student council officer for two years through the College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources. He also participated in Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, was a chairman for CAFNR week steering committee and Block and Bridle Club.

A 32-day journey to Australia with MU’s animal science program took Christopher to places like Brisbane, Gold Cost and Gatton while in college.

“We spent time at the Gatton University and toured the area’s agricultural industry,” Christopher explains. In addition, he became acquainted with college students from Australia through socialization and education experiences.

Other highlights of his trip included the Gold Coast enjoying time on the beach as well as a week at Queensland University in Gatton where he attended classes on agricultural history and culture in Australia.

Christopher says the adventure was undoubtedly a learning experience as we take cost of living, food quality and security, government and education for granted here in America.



Sara Kahrs

Sara Kahrs Sara Kahrs

Not many aspiring college graduates earn a degree in three years, let alone do so while working three jobs and then land a position as a designer at one of the top corporations in America. But, Sara did just that.

A May 2013 MU graduate, Sara earned a degree in textile and apparel management with an emphasis in product development. While completing her undergraduate degree, she worked as a lab assistant in the textile and apparel sewing lab on campus, a position chosen by department professors and staff. At the same time, she logged hours at Aerie as a sales associate and at David’s Bridal as an alterations specialist.

Shortly after graduation, the aspiring young designer secured a position with Bass Pro Corporate and has already grown through four positions in her tenure with the company. She currently is a technical designer for the company’s men’s line and a fit technician for ladies clothing.

“Fit tech duties include communicating the spec measurements to the factories for the desired fit, measuring samples as the arrive, fitting garments on body forms and live models, and communicating needed changes to the factories to achieve the desired fit before the product is released into production,” Sara explains.

While at MU, Sara designed, cut and sewed a 100 percent cotton creation for the Mizzou Botanic Garden Plant Fashion Show. She also applied and was selected to participate in Kansas City Fashion Week as a student and twice as a professional designer. In addition to an application and reference process, the Kansas City Fashion Week also requires the applicant to provide thoughts, ideas and aspirations for a collection that would be created if selected.

In addition to her work at Bass Pro, Sara manages her own fashion line, Sara Kahrs Designs. In this capacity she designs women’s apparel as well as bridal and formal wear. She lives in Springfield.



Darcy Long

A student at Hannibal-LaGrange College where she is pursuing a degree in early childhood education, Darcy hopes to teach elementary school following graduation in May 2016. She’s a member of the Student Missouri State Teachers Association and works at Hannibal Children’s Center, which is affiliated with Hannibal Regional Hospital. As the lead teacher for school age children, Darcy works in the after school program from August through May and facilitates curriculum and field trips during the summer months.

Darcy is engaged to marry Quinton Robertson in May 2016.



Rebecca Nelson

Rebecca Nelson Rebecca Nelson

Australian cattle dogs in action, a koala sanctuary, the Australia zoo and a deer farm were all part of Rebecca’s self-described amazing experience after spending a month in the land down under while in college.

“Two of my favorite things were the mountains and the Stradbroke Island,” she says. “Stradbroke Island was just like an island should be, almost untouched on the coast. Nothing but sand and water, it was beautiful. We also got to take a hike and go whale watching.”

Still, her favorite outing was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef where she saw sea turtles, coral, starfish and even sharks.

A December 2013 graduate of MU with a degree in animal science, Rebecca also enjoyed a journey to China during her undergraduate studies.

A short, but sweet journey, Rebecca says the 2013 spring break adventure took place during Holy Week. “It was very different for me not to be spending Easter at home with my family,” she explains. “I will never forget the experience I had with that culture, though. We mostly were in Beijing, staying at the agriculture university there.”

The experience sent Rebecca to places like the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square and the Beijing Zoo.

Still, she says she took away the most from visiting farms and a feed mill. “We went to a top 10 feed mill in all of China,” Rebecca says. “Here, we talked a lot about the United States and South American corn and soybean production and how heavily China depends on that. To me, this was a big deal since my family raises those crops every year.”

From small-town, middle America, Rebecca says you don’t always realize who all depends on you and the job your family does every day.

The group also visited two different hog farms, and she says she was most impacted by how much agriculture must take place on a small amount of ground.

“The first one we went to mostly raised pigs to be placed at a boar stud,” Rebecca explains. Bio-security was enforced on that farm, and she says sewage treatment area stored manure on site. “Whereas at home, we would store it in a pit and then inject it in the field. That was a big difference.”

The other hog farm was small in size, Rebecca says, with the land used as much as possible. “Any available space had a row or two of corn planted,” she says. Visits to a dairy farm and duck operation were unsuccessful, as animals are not vaccinated in China like they are in the U.S. “That was a huge difference compared to home.”

Now a customer service representative for ADM Alliance Nutrition, Rebecca lives in Vandalia and will marry Jed Edwards in June 2016.



McKenzie Reagan

McKenzie Reagan McKenzie Reagan

McKenzie graduated from William Jewel College in Liberty, earning a degree in secondary education and Spanish in May 2014. A Summa Cum Laude graduate, she was on the academic Dean’s list all four years of college, was named Secondary Education Junior of the Year in 2013, and was in Phi Epsilon Honor Society. Additionally, she was a WJC Scholar Athlete from 2010-2014 and member of the college’s track and cross country teams.

While in college, McKenzie studied abroad for a summer in Sevilla, Spain, where she lived with a host family and took classes through a program to fulfill her Spanish major. She also traveled throughout the country and was immersed in its culture.

“I was able to practice my Spanish-speaking classes while also learning about Spain’s history and the different cultural influences throughout the country,” McKenzie explains. “Throughout my time in Spain, I definitely observed many cultural differences, including personal space, which is non-existent there, and meal times.”

Spaniards also have a different attitude toward life, McKenzie remembers. Contrary to the busy, workaholic attitudes and lifestyle of Americans, Spaniards live a more laid back lifestyle and focus on being present each and every day.

“This was a real eye-opener for me, and it helped me look at my own life and make the effort to change my attitude and priorities,” McKenzie says. “My time in Spain helped me learn a great deal about the Spanish language and culture, which has helped me within my teaching career, but it also helped me find a passion for traveling and experiencing other cultures.”

McKenzie is currently a high school Spanish instructor at DeKalb High School where she also coaches girls’ softball and basketball. Additionally, she’s enrolled in a graduate program through Park University to receive her master’s in educational leadership. Active in her family’s farm, McKenzie helps with their cattle operation and during harvest. She also has her own share of tobacco production.



Karen Rohlfing

Karen graduated from Missouri Baptist University in the St. Louis area in 2014 with a bachelor’s in elementary education. Currently, she is a fifth grade teacher in the Owensville School District and helps on her family’s farm.

While in college, Karen was a member of the Student Missouri State Teachers Association. She lives in Hermann and also works during the summer at Windy Hill Cut Flower Farm.



Thomas Slayden

Having graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business, Thomas now farms with his father in King City where they raise corn, soybeans, wheat and cattle. In addition, he helps operate the family’s soil conservation business constructing terraces and ponds.

While in college, Thomas was active in the NWMSU’s Baptist Student Union where he took mission trips to Joplin as well as Stillwater, Oklahoma. In Joplin, Thomas assisted with storm clean up following the city’s devastating tornado.

Thomas and wife Janika were married in June 2014 and are expecting their first child in March 2016.



Austin Steele

Austin attended College of the Ozarks before transferring to MU where he earned a degree in 2014 in agricultural education.

While at MU, Austin was involved with Agricultural Education Society and CAFNR Steering Committee. He also worked on campus at the MU Meat Lab gaining valuable experience in learning cuts of meat and how the industry operates. He was on the Dean’s list for seven semesters while at Mizzou.

Since high school, Austin had several opportunities to travel abroad. A 2010 trip sent him to Taiwan as part of Roy Blunt’s International Agriculture Tour for Missouri State FFA officers. While there, the group spent a week exploring Taiwan’s agriculture industry and meeting agricultural dignitaries.

During winter break 2012-2013, Austin also participated in a study abroad program in New Zealand through MU.

“It was a life-changing trip,” Austin says, “and I loved every minute of the coastal, tropical and mountainous country. We traveled both islands experiencing different types of agriculture than what we are used to in the United States.

Austin now teaches agriculture education in Neosho and serves as one of the school’s FFA advisors. He married the former Sadie Kinne in May 2015 and resides in Neosho.



Jack Vincent

A May 2014 graduate of the University of Central Missouri with a degree in agriculture business, minor in marketing, Jack is a grain merchandiser for Illinois-based Gavilon Grain. While at UCM, he was in the agriculture honors society, Delta Tau Alpha, and was also in Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. Additionally, Jack was the house manager for his fraternity and served on its executive board.

Jack completed two internships with Bartlett Grain, one in Scott City, Kansas, and the other in Yuma, Colorado.

In his current position at Gavilon Grain, Jack works one-on-one with farmers in the marketing of their products. He lives in Galesburg, Illinois.



Hillary Henke Weimer

Hillary Henke Weimer Hillary Henke Weimer

Hillary attended Rockhurst University’s honors program where she enrolled in honors level courses throughout her undergraduate study. She was involved in Psi Chi, an honor society for psychology, in addition to other on-campus student organizations. Additionally, Hillary made the Dean’s list all eight semesters while at Rockhurst and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Her master’s capstone group was chosen to present their research conducted at the American Stroke Foundation at the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, this past April.

During her sophomore year in college, Hillary traveled to Guatemala for a service immersion trip. She explains, “We worked in San Lucas building brick ovens, painting a hospital, sorting and drying coffee beans, and in a local school. During my studies, I completed a clinical rotation in St. Lucia, providing occupational therapy services to children with developmental disabilities at the Dunnotar School.”

St. Lucia does not allow children with disabilities of any kind to attend public school, Hillary says, and only one learning facility is available for those kids on the entire island. “We provided occupational therapy service and educated teachers about intervention techniques and strategies to use with the children to promote further engagement and success in an academic environment,” she explains.

In addition, Hillary has completed clinic rotations at The University of Kansas Medical Center, The Visiting Nurse’s Association, Rusk Rehabilitation Center and Salisbury and Westran School Districts.

Hillary passed her board certification test in August and is currently a registered and licensed occupational therapist (OTR/L). She does home health rehab in Randolph, Chariton and Macon counties in addition to servicing the Higbee R-VIII school district and working on expanding her practice.

Married in December 2014, Hillary lives in Salisbury on the same farm where she was raised.



Amanda Yung

Amanda graduated in May 2014 from MU with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. While in college, she logged countless clinical hours through nursing school including mental health hospital, women and children’s hospital, school and community nursing. Although she never traveled, Amanda was introduced to many routes she could pursue with her nursing degree. She also worked as a nurse tech at Rusk Rehab while an undergraduate, gaining skills critical to her nursing profession.

A registered nurse, Amanda works on the medical specialties floor at Boone Hospital Center.


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