Scholarship Recipients Return to Phelps County for Agricultural Careers

Scholarship Recipients Return to Phelps County for Agricultural Careers Main Photo

26 Jul 2023

Higher Education

An interest in agriculture and PCDC scholarships encouraged two local students to return home to Phelps County to live and work.

Josh Reed and Drake Johnson are 2023 college graduates and former high-demand jobs scholarship recipients who are now employed in their home community.

Reed is a 2021 Holdrege High School graduate who studied agronomy and precision agriculture at Southeast Community College in Beatrice. He now works as an agronomist for South Platte Crop Consulting owned by Dave Nelson of Holdrege.

Reed started working at South Platte as a high school student in 2018. He knew he wanted to work in agriculture from an early age.

“Agriculture is basically what runs Phelps County in a way, and I wanted to be an agronomist, so being back here is a great area for that,” Reed said.

Reed said he had several job offers, including offers outside of Phelps County. The scholarship was a major factor in bringing him back to Phelps County.

“It was a pretty good scholarship that fit me,” he said.

Reed said he enjoys Phelps County because it has “lots of stuff to do.”

He cited The Drive Golf & Lounge, a nice golf course, bowling and recreational opportunities like fishing and hunting as great local assets.

Reed was highly involved in FFA in high school and earned his American FFA Degree. He now volunteers to help with the Holdrege High School FFA test plot and is looking forward to continuing to help with FFA in the future.

Drake Johnson is a 2019 Holdrege High School graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and a minor in agronomy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May.

He now works for BRJ Farms with his dad, Brad Johnson. He also is a sales representative for fertilizer and chemicals with FireBoldt Ag out of Norton, Kansas.

Johnson said he is excited to be back in Phelps County to “carry on the tradition of our family farm” and to be near many of his friends who are also moving back to live and work.

Johnson said he is grateful for the high-demand jobs scholarship.

“It helped me being able to go to a four-year college and graduate college without getting more student loans,” he said.

Now that he’s back in Phelps County, Johnson enjoys playing in church-league softball. He is also looking forward to being involved in his church and coaching youth sports. He enjoyed his community involvement in the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity at UNL and looks to continue that community involvement in Holdrege.

The PCDC high-demand jobs scholarships are intended to encourage students to return to Phelps County to work in high-demand fields. In the 10 years that the scholarships have been offered, $267,000 and 95 scholarships have been awarded. Applications open in December through the Phelps County Community Foundation’s scholarship portal. The scholarships are made available through LB840 sales tax funds, private donations and matching funds from the PCCF.