Lincoln/Logan County Chamber awards three new Agricultural Scholarships

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[March 25, 2017]  LINCOLN - On Thursday, the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce hosted the 18th Annual Ag Scholarship Breakfast at the Lincoln Center on the campus of Lincoln College.

This year approximately 200 guests attended the breakfast catered by the college’s food service program.

The morning began with guests signing in at the front door, then being invited to work around the outside of the room visiting with the many local businesses who had tables set up, manned with representatives ready to talk about their products and services. Each table offered lots of free items for guests to grab up as they chatted with vendors.

A large buffet breakfast was served and then Chamber Director Cathy Wilhite moved into the program for the day. She opened by issuing many ‘thanks’ to the various vendors who were on hand who were also sponsors of the breakfast, then acknowledged the Lincoln College, the Chamber Board of Directors, Chamber Ag Scholarship Committee, the Chamber staff and others who had contributed to the success of the event.

Wilhite also acknowledged the presence of the incoming Lincoln Mayor, Seth Goodman, members of the Lincoln City Council and members of the Logan County Board.

(See separate coverage of Wilhite’s opening remarks)

This year the guest speaker was Illinois Director of Agriculture Raymond Poe. Poe took the podium expressing his appreciation for the agricultural community in Logan County. He touched on several topics including the fact that today there is a demand for agricultural education because there are more jobs available in the field than those who are qualified to fill them. He gave kudos to the Chamber for recognizing the importance of agricultural education, and the effort the Chamber makes to promote agricultural career choices through the scholarship program.

(See separate coverage of Raymond Poe’s speech)

After Poe finished, Betsy Pech, former Ag Teacher and FFA Advisor at Hartsburg-Emden High School, and current chair of the Chamber Ag Scholarship Committee, spoke. Pech commented about the dedication of the American farmer, using herself as an example. She said her passions were her faith, her family, her cows, and agriculture. She went on to say that her commitments were similar to those of all farmers.

Pech went on to recognize the number of FFA members who were in the room, asking all those members to stand and be acknowledged. She went on to name the various agriculture teachers/FFA advisors in Logan County and spoke about their dedication to their students and to the programs they lead.

With this being the final Ag Breakfast John Fulton will attend as the Logan County Extension Director, Pech took a few moments to acknowledge Fulton who is retiring at the end of March. She also noted that Fulton’s wife Sherry is with the DeWitt County Extension and she too will be retiring.

Before moving on to the scholarship presentations, Pech took a moment to acknowledge Kent and Sara Kleinschmidt who were named 2017 Master Farmers by Prairie Farmer Magazine. The Kleinschmidt’s are farmers in the Emden area. The popular farm magazine named four Master Famers this year with the others including Joel Kooistra of McHenry County, Allen Entwistle of Sangamon County and Tracy Jones of DeKalb County.

This year there were three scholarship recipients. Pech introduced each one who then came forward to accept their certificates and scholarship award, then had their photo take with Director Poe.

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Ashley Zinser is the daughter of Craig and Tammy Zinser and will be a graduate of Hartsburg-Emden High this spring. She plans to further her education majoring in Agriculture Business.

Skye Kretzinger is the daughter of Joseph and Tiffany Kretzinger of Mount Pulaski. She will graduate from Mount Pulaski High School this spring and will pursue a degree in agriculture.

Reagen Tibbs will graduate from Lincoln Community High School this spring. He plans to further his education pursuing a degree in Political Science with an emphasis on Ag Communications. Reagen is the son of Scott and Vanessa Tibbs of Middletown.

After the photo with Poe, each of the recipients offered up a few comments for the audience.

Each of the three recipients came forward and thanked the Chamber for the scholarship award. They also added a few personal comments.

Tibbs talked about his choice of major in political science. He said that he did intend to go forward with a political career where he would represent the farming industry to the best of his ability. He concluded thanking his family members and his LCHS Ag teacher and FFA advisor.

Zinser noted that she is a student at Hartsburg-Emden, is active in FFA as well as 4-H and is a member of this year’s Lincoln Land CEO program. Zinzer is also very active in many other organizations within her high school. She also included many thanks to family members as well as her Ag teachers and FFA advisor.

Kretzinger talked about her school involvement at Mount Pulaski High School and FFA. She talked about how FFA had impacted her.

As the day came to an end, the winners of last year’s ‘Great Predictor’ contest were announced by Andrew Alton of Farm Credit Services.

Pech returned to the podium to speak about the need for assistance in the western states that have lost so much due to wildfires. She noted that human lives had been lost, but also thousands of head of cattle had been lost on ranches in the path of the fire. She noted that at this time of the year, many of those animals were cow-calf combinations, meaning that two generations of livestock are gone, and the ranchers will have a hard go of it having lost two seasons of a ‘crop.” She talked about the need for hay for the coming year for the animals that have survived, and the loss of thousands of acres of pasture ground as well as farm buildings. She encouraged everyone in the room to consider sending financial support to the western ranchers, noting that as farmers they are united, and are all in it together.

The day ended with drawing by Lincoln College President Dr. David Gerlach conducting a drawing for six door prizes from the names of those who had attended the breakfast. After the drawings, Wilhite dismissed the group for the day, thanking everyone for attending.

[Nila Smith]


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