Kickapoo High School senior lands Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation scholarship

Five high school seniors from rural Wisconsin receive support to pursue their academic goals

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Rural Opportunities Foundation (WROF), Inc. announced the recipients of their Premier Scholarship Awards Program. This award program provides high school seniors from rural Wisconsin with $3,000 each to help cover the costs of Wisconsin’s post-secondary tuition and educational expenses. Key in the selection process is the student’s intention to return to rural Wisconsin upon graduation to help sustain its vitality.

Kyle Degner of Wonewoc, Wis. understands firsthand the importance of providing quality healthcare for communities in rural Wisconsin. Kyle’s mother recovered from an infected knee after a joint replacement. “My mother is a farmer and teacher, and it was important for her to receive quality healthcare in our rural environment and get back to what she loves to do,” says Kyle. “I want to be the person helping people just like my mom.” Kyle plans to serve rural Wisconsin as a physical therapist when he graduates from UW-Oshkosh. 

Ryther Gehrke of Viola, Wis. plans to become a Speech Pathologist at Viterbo University. When his grandfather lost his ability to walk, speak, and perform basic motor skills after a stroke, Ryther attended his grandfather’s therapy sessions, Ryther was amazed by the progress his grandfather gained from the therapy work. He looks forward to filling the gap in the shortage of therapists in rural communities. “I plan to return to rural Wisconsin and serve the population that has done so much to help our rural communities thrive,” says Ryther.

After Anna Kayhart of Granton, Wis. graduates from UW-River Falls in Agricultural Education, she wants to a “Mrs. Reider” to all her students! Mrs. Reider was Anna’s agriculture teacher in high school who had a huge influence on Anna. She was a source of support for Anna, by helping her gain public speaking skills, providing academic support, and encouraging Anna to be the best person she could be. Having grown up on a dairy farm, Anna has a passion for agriculture and looks forward to teaching everyone about the work of farmers. “Every person on the planet deserves to know where their food comes from,” says Anna. “I will do my best to make that happen.”

An unfortunate incident brought the current shortage of large animal veterinarians in Wisconsin front and center for Alexi Klotzbuecher of Weyauwega, Wis. When her neighbor’s dogs got out, they attacked three sheep that Alexi was keeping as a 4-H project. The first sheep died right away. Alexi called every veterinary clinic in a 100-mile radius. Unfortunately, she could not find a veterinarian to tend to the other two, who eventually succumbed before Alexi’s eyes. “After this experience, I was determined to become a veterinarian,” says Alexi. “To this day, I still exhibit animals and job shadow at clinics to increase my knowledge and pursue my passion.”

Because of her extensive work with youth, Laura Rydberg of Deerbrook, Wis is determined to become a pediatrician and return to her rural town, or another rural community in Wisconsin, to provide rural healthcare. “(Antigo) is not a wealthy town and many of the youth in this community lack safe and comfortable living situations,” says Laura. “I have made it my mission to provide these children with a trustworthy and dependable person to turn to.” 

“Congratulations to our five 2024 WROF, Inc. Premier Scholarship recipients. The WROF, Inc. is thrilled to be able to assist Alexi, Anna, Kyle, Laura, and Ryther in their pursuit of post-secondary education,” says Sue Schultz, WROF, Inc. Board Member and Chair of the WROF, Inc. Premier Scholarship Award Program. “We are honored to recognize their hard work and commitment to return to rural Wisconsin and make a difference in the communities where they live, work, and serve.”

We’d like to give special thanks to the WROF, Inc. Premier Scholarship Awards Program Chair, Susan Schultz, and to the members of the ad hoc WROF, Inc. Premier Scholarship Selection Committee for their time, dedication, and careful consideration in selecting the five recipients, out of talented applicants across the state of Wisconsin. 

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