Vita Plus Loyal and Vita Plus Kennan have proudly selected four Wisconsin high school seniors as recipients of the 2020 Our Future Is Agriculture scholarship. This program recognizes deserving students with long-term career interests in agriculture. Students must plan to enroll in an accredited vocational or technical institute, community college, or four-year college or university that offers an academic major in an agriculture-related field. The $500 scholarship may be applied toward tuition, room and board, or other expenses.
This year’s recipients of the Vita Plus Loyal scholarships are Kaitlin Thoma, Neillsville High School; Trevyn Wilke, Loyal High School; and Cortney Zimmerman, Spencer High School. The recipient of the Vita Plus Kennan scholarship is Haven Pearison, Flambeau High School.
Thoma, Neillsville, is the daughter of Gary and Kelly Thoma. Thoma grew up on her family’s farm, which is where she developed a desire to work in the dairy industry. While her parents made the decision to sell the farm in 2015, Thoma still works in the dairy industry, milking cows and feeding animals at a local dairy, and raising beef heifers at the home farm. She is a member of the Neillsville FFA Chapter, currently serving as president. She says FFA “has been the most rewarding activity of her high school career” because it has taught her public speaking skills and helped her develop strong leadership qualities. Thoma has been accepted to Mid-State Technical College’s farm operation program. After completing this two-year degree, she wants to work as a herdsman.
Wilke, Loyal, is the son of Robert and Tanya Wilke. He grew up showing dairy cattle and swine with the Loyal Lads and Lassies 4-H Club, and he gained a greater understanding of the dairy industry by working for a custom harvesting and manure application business. He participates in the school-to-work program to help perform chores for several local dairy farms. Wilke plans to attend North Central Technical College in the fall to pursue a double major in agricultural business and dairy science, with hopes of becoming a dairy nutritionist.
Zimmerman, Spencer, is the daughter of Mark and Cheryl Zimmerman. Zimmerman grew up on her family’s Simmental cattle farm. Her passion for agriculture grew as she became active in her local 4-H club and FFA chapter, as well as helping organize events and lessons for her school’s agricultural education department. Zimmerman served as president of the Spencer FFA Chapter from 2018 to 2019, and was selected as a national voting delegate for the Wisconsin Association of FFA for this summer. After graduation, Zimmerman plans to attend South Dakota State University to study animal science and hopes to work for a livestock nutrition company.
Pearison, Hawkins, is the daughter of Jeffery and Loree Pearison. Throughout her high school experience, Pearison has balanced work and school. She is proud of the work ethic she has developed from working on several dairy farms as well as in the Ladysmith Nursing Home. Her passion is photography, and she plans to attend the Chippewa Valley Technical College to earn a degree in digital marketing. She currently designs marketing materials for the Flambeau Greenhouse and various FFA events, and has a goal to own her own digital marketing business one day.
The employee owners at Vita Plus Loyal and Vita Plus Kennan recognize that supporting students in their pursuit of agricultural careers is essential to develop the next generation of leaders and innovators in the ag industry.
“The agriculture industry will always require leaders to innovate and adapt to provide a safe, nutritious and abundant food supply,” says John Every, Vita Plus Loyal general manager. “The education these students will receive will help ensure the success of the industry for years to come.”