Nine Students Earn Share of $26,000 in High-Demand Jobs Scholarships

30 May 2018

Nine students have been awarded scholarships to study in local high-demand fields, such as agriculture and nursing, because they plan to return to Phelps County to work after graduation.

This is the fifth year the scholarships have been offered. They are part of the Phelps County Development Corporation’s efforts to create a quality local work force.

This year, $26,000 in scholarships were awarded ranging from $1,000-$4,000 each.

The scholarships are intended to encourage graduating seniors and non-traditional students to pursue work in local high-demand jobs: nurses, agri-business and technology positions, diesel mechanics, engineer technologists, mechatronics engineers, injection mold technicians, electro-mechanical technologists, machinists, tool and die makers, construction trades, welders and commercial truck drivers.

Scholarship winner Sarah Pelton, a 2018 graduate of Bertrand High School, plans to attend the Bryan LGH nursing school this fall and return to Phelps County to work after her education.

“This county has raised me to the person I am today and why wouldn’t I want to give back to the people who contributed to my upbringing?” Sarah said. “It’s a special place.”

Sarah, who was involved in 4-H, FFA and church activities growing up, said she appreciates the sense of community in Phelps County.

“I’m sure you can find that anywhere else, but Phelps County just has its own unique love,” she said. “I think of Bertrand and how it only has 750 people but everybody works toward one common goal, and that’s true in Loomis and Holdrege and other Phelps County towns as well. Everyone wants to make everything better and take care of everyone. It’s just one big family. I look forward to becoming an adult part of that family.”

Sarah said she was considering either a career in agriculture or health care. She attended PCDC’s tour of local businesses during her junior year of high school, and that activity helped her decide on nursing.

“I was in the hospital part of the tour, and the nurses were talking about their jobs and how much they liked it,” she said. “It was kind of an epiphany.”

A part-time job at the physical therapy center in Holdrege during high school also helped her know that she was choosing the right field.

Scholarship winners must sign a contract stating their intention to return to the county to work after their education. The scholarships are funded through LB840 sales tax funds, private donors and a matching grant from the Phelps County Community Foundation.

The 2018 scholarship winners are Hunter Brenn, Holdrege High School graduate, studying agriculture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Christina Butler, Loomis High School graduate, studying nursing at Grand Island Central Community College (3rd year recipient); Preston Garringer, Holdrege High School graduate, studying business at Central Community College-Hastings; Mackenzie Koch, Holdrege High School graduate, studying nursing at BryanLGH; Sarah Pelton, Bertrand High School graduate, studying nursing at Bryan LGH; Kamryn Smith (2nd year recipient), Holdrege High School graduate studying nursing at the University of Nebraska at Kearney; Emily Torres, Loomis High School graduate, studying nursing at Central Community College-Hastings; Blade Wagener, Holdrege High School graduate, studying tool and die at Central Community College-Hastings; Wyatt Wilken, Bertrand High School graduate, studying diesel technology at Central Community College-Hastings.

In the five years that the scholarships have been offered, $124,000 has been awarded to 49 students. While several students are still completing their education, at least 11 have already returned and are employed in the county including include Andrew Daily, Evan Dow, Kelly Thorell, Jill Gabriel, Jamie Bialas, Alex Hamling, Colter Edgren, Boe Barnett, Levi Woodring, Lex Swanson and Ethan Johnson.