Scholarship Winners Making An Impact in Phelps County

Scholarship Winners Making An Impact in Phelps County Main Photo

20 Nov 2020

Former recipients of PCDC’s High-Demand Jobs scholarships continue to return to Phelps County to make an impact.

One scholarship winner has returned to Phelps County to start a career in law, and another has become a Registered Nurse and continues to care for local residents in her nursing career.

Christina Ledbetter-Butler graduated from Loomis High School in 1989 and started on a path very different from nursing when she earned an associate’s degree in accounting in 1991.

A Phelps County high-demands jobs scholarship recently helped her realize her dream of becoming a Registered Nurse.

“PCDC was a lifesaver for me and made it possible for me to go back to school and not worry about how to cover the expense of tuition and books,” she said. “I really don't know that I could have done it without the help of the PCDC scholarship. I am forever grateful to the donors who made my scholarship possible. It has made a world of difference in my family's life. We are forever thankful.”

Ledbetter-Butler received $8,000 in high-demand jobs scholarships over three years. She had returned to Central Community College to earn an associate’s degree in practical nursing in 1996. The PCDC scholarships helped her complete that last step of earning an associate’s degree in nursing and to become an RN in May 2020.

She is currently working at Phelps Memorial Health Center in the Med-Surg area.

“I have always been someone who has put other's care before my own,” Ledbetter-Butler said. “I truly believe that nursing is what I was born to do with my life. I have always wanted to get my RN degree, and I felt that it was time that I did something for myself, so I dove in and finally graduated with a degree at 48 years old. It is never too late to do it.”

Zachary Gray, a 2013 graduate of Holdege High School, began his new position as an attorney at Anderson, Klein, Brewster, Brandt in mid-October.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy with a minor in agribusiness in 2017 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He graduated in May 2020 from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

He will combine his fields of study to specialize in the areas of agricultural and water law as well as general law work including business formations, real estate law, wills, trusts, estate law and taxes.

“Growing up in a small town and on the family farm, I always wanted to get back to the small-town way of life and to the Holdrege area,” Gray said. “I wanted to be close to family and the farm. Holdrege, and Phelps County in general, is a great place to start a family and a career, and it’s a great way of life.”

Throughout his college career, Gray earned $6,000 in scholarships as part of PCDC’s High Demand Jobs Scholarship program. The program awards students scholarships if they agree to return to Phelps County to work in high-demand fields.

“I would like to say thank you, as the scholarships were a great help in making my education possible,” Gray said to PCDC and the donors who helped fund the scholarships. “I would also like to commend them on continuing to give back to the community in a way that contributes greatly not only to the present but to the future vitality of the community by bringing young workers and professionals back to Holdrege.”

While in college, Gray interned and worked for Tri-Basin NRD, USDA-NRCS, Nebraska Cattlemen, and lobbying firm Jensen Rogert Associates, and clerked for the law firm Brouillette, Dugan, Troshynski & Bellew in North Platte. He was also involved in agricultural leadership groups such as the Nebraska Corn & Soy Mentor Program through the Nebraska Soybean Association and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. He served as President of the UNL FFA Alumni Club his senior year and was involved in the Iron N group.

In law school, he was involved in the Student Bar Association, the Delta Theta Phi law fraternity, the Environmental & Agricultural Law Society, and Greater Nebraska Connections, which focuses on providing rural Nebraska with adequate legal services.  He served as Treasurer and President of Greater Nebraska Connections as well.

“In returning to the community and area, I hope to be involved in professional organizations such as the chamber,” Gray said. “I also hope to be involved in church, and youth ag leadership programs such as FFA and 4-H, both of which I participated in growing up.”

In the seven years the scholarships have been offered, $176,000 has been awarded to 66 students. The next round of scholarships opens up on Dec. 1. Scholarships are processed through the Phelps County Community Foundation, and applications can be found on the website at