Each year, Farmers Union Insurance awards $25,000 in scholarships to South Dakota youth through the S.D. Farmers Union Foundation. The scholarships are sponsored by Farmers Union Insurance agents from across the state.

“Scholarships are an impactful way for our organization to invest in South Dakota’s farm and ranch families, rural communities and our state’s future,” says Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President.

Over the past 13 years, the foundation has awarded more than $325,000 in scholarships to students pursuing post-secondary education at South Dakota’s two- and four-year schools, these scholarship recipients are among our best and brightest.

The 2020 scholarship recipients are: Nathan Andersen, Whitewood; Lexi Rust, Yankton; Mason McDonald, Huron; Danika Gordon, Whitewood; Abigail DeJong, Huron; Megan Linke, Woonsocket; Georgia Kuehn, Redfield; Jordyn Gerlach, Corsica; Emily Rystrom, Brookings; Hunter Eide, Gettysburg; Peyton Schroeder, Alexandria; Britt Oliver, Lemmon; Ellie Overweg, Kimball; Alison Logue, Volin; Rachael Cutshaw, Clear Lake; Samantha Lux, Leola; Abigail Vanden Berge, Platte; Emma Lammey, Letcher; Landon Hegg, Huron; Hayden Hegg, Huron; Teigan Clark, Meadow; Katie Schmit, Artesian; Rose Eitemiller, Armour; Samantha Thyen, Waverly; and Bailee Anderson, Colman. To learn more and view their photos, visit www.SDFUFoundation.org.

As they begin the next chapter of their lives, Farmers Union spotlights three of these rural youth: Hunter Eide, Gettysburg; Landon Hegg, Huron; and Teigan Clark, Meadow.

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FFA Agri-Science Project Led to Interest in Rural Healthcare

When his high school science teacher asked who was interested in participating in the science fair, freshman Hunter Eide was the only student to raise a hand. But being the only one didn’t stop the Gettysburg native from applying himself.

His hard work paid off. Throughout high school, Eide conducted four research projects and documented his findings. In addition to the science fair he also entered the projects in the FFA agri-science career development event. Three of his four projects qualified and placed at the National FFA Agri-Science Fair. The academic papers he wrote on his findings have been published in professional journals.

Through these experiences, as well as his fondness for growing up in the rural community of Gettysburg, Eide says he found his calling – to become a rural family practice doctor.

“I love helping people. And I have always had a passion for science and biology. As I have dug deeper into that, I decided this is what I want to do the rest of my life,” says the South Dakota State University human biology major.

The educational path to becoming a doctor is long. Eide says growing up working on his Grandpa Eugene’s farm equipped him with the perseverance needed.

“You have to be dedicated, and it takes a lot of patience to tear out an entire section of old fence and replace it. It is not a quick or easy process,” Eide explains.

In his future career as a doctor, communication is another valuable skill Eide says he will need. He credits the public speaking opportunities he had through involvement in 4-H and FFA for bolstering his communication skills.

“Starting as an 8-year-old, I was giving public presentations in front of my 4-H club and at the fair,” he says. He continued developing his speaking skills through FFA extemporaneous public speaking contests.

Today as the South Dakota State FFA Secretary, together with the team of six, Eide interacts with thousands of FFA members across South Dakota. “As a family practice doctor, I will get to help patients of all ages. It will be important that I am able to communicate with them.”

Eide is the son of Shon and Gerri Eide. He says both of his parents took the time to share their interests with him and encourage him. “My dad created an interest in me for nature and lit the spark I have for biology. And my mom pushed me to do my first prepared speech when I was 8 and was always there to support me. She pushed me and opened doors for me that I didn’t even know existed.”

He says along with a work ethic, he gained a strong passion for agriculture and a clear idea of what he wants to do in his future career.

“I really love working on the farm. I find it rewarding,” Hegg explains. “It is hard work, but in the end, I feel a real sense of accomplishment.”

His love for agriculture inspired him to pursue a degree in agriculture systems technology at South Dakota State University.

“With all the new technology always coming out in the farming world, I thought it would be an interesting way to stay involved in agriculture. I hope to have a career in the government or working for a cooperative and also farm on the side.”

While working for his dad and grandpa, Hegg also built up his own cattle herd as an FFA project, using a Farm Service Agency (FSA) cattle loan. He keeps his cattle at his grandpa’s farm. “I’m using the money I get from the cattle to pay off the loan. Once it’s paid off, then I will keep adding to the herd.”

In addition to the cattle project, Hegg says through involvement and holding officer positions in the Huron FFA Chapter and Broadland Buddies 4-H Club he had the opportunity to learn what it means to be a leader. “Serving as an officer, I learned how to face problems head-on, and understand what it means to have other kids look up to you and the responsibility that comes with that.”

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Rodeo Athlete Calls Wide Open Spaces Home

Rodeo is a Clark family tradition. “Each family has their own thing that they like to do. For our family, we like to rodeo,” says Teigan Clark, who qualified to compete in saddle bronc at the 2020 National High School Finals.

Clark learned how to rope and ride on his family’s Lemmon ranch. It is also on his family’s ranch where Clark figured out his future careers. “I’m a hands-on learner. I do really good with stuff that is hands-on, so my goal is to become an electrician and come back to ranch with my dad,” explains Clark, who will pursue a degree in electrical trades from Western Dakota Technical School this fall. “I like the wide-open spaces and the freedom to wake up in the morning and go out and not be surrounded by congestion. Also, I like working with livestock and figuring out ways to make them more productive.”

Throughout his youth, Clark has already begun to prepare by building up a flock of commercial sheep. They are Rambouillet crossed with South African Meat Merino (SAMM).

When Clark says he wants to return to work on the ranch, he is speaking from experience because he understands what it is like to not live on the ranch full time. He is a graduate of the Christian boarding school, Sunshine Bible Academy.

More than a student, Clark became actively involved in student government, serving on student council, Clark was elected to serve as president of his class, was an FFA officer and accepted the role of house leader.

“Because Sunshine is a boarding school, some students can get homesick, and as a house leader, it is our role to check in with a small group of students each day,” Clark explains. “It is a privilege to step up and take this leadership role. Being a house leader speaks of your character and willingness to step up and take on a larger role.”

Character matters to Clark. “I really strive to be a man of integrity and someone who does the right thing, even when no one else is looking,” he says. “I strive to be a godly man and someone who is a leader and someone who is honest.”

He says that throughout his life, he has had many mentors, the most important one being his dad, Pat. “He has taught me what it means to have good character and what it means to be an honest, hardworking man and someone who stands up for what I believe in.” 

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Team Captain Says Leaders Support Their Teammates 

When asked what makes a good leader, the 2019 Huron Tiger’s Football team captain, Landon Hegg has this to say, “A good leader is someone who looks out for others…a leader is not always the best player and does not always score the most, but they are the one who others look up to because they know they can depend on them.” 

As a leader, Hegg says he doesn’t take for granted that others are watching when he makes decisions. “As a leader I know I have to be responsible and I make sure I am doing the right thing.” 

He says his thoughts on leadership are rooted in watching the examples set by his dad, Neal, and grandpa, Rick Benson, and other adult family members. “My dad, my grandpa and my family have formed into the man I am today. They gave me a strong work ethic and always make sure I am doing the right thing and going down the right path.” 

Hegg spends a lot of time with Neal and Rick working on their respective farms. He says along with a work ethic, he gained a strong passion for agriculture and a clear idea of what he wants to do in his future career. 

“I really love working on the farm. I find it rewarding,” Hegg explains. “It is hard work, but in the end, I feel a real sense of accomplishment.” 

His love for agriculture inspired him to pursue a degree in agriculture systems technology at South Dakota State University. 

“With all the new technology always coming out in the farming world, I thought it would be an interesting way to stay involved in agriculture. I hope to have a career in the government or working for a cooperative and also farm on the side.” 

While working for his dad and grandpa, Hegg also built up his own cattle herd as an FFA project, using a Farm Service Agency (FSA) cattle loan. He keeps his cattle at his grandpa’s farm. “I’m using the money I get from the cattle to pay off the loan. Once it’s paid off, then I will keep adding to the herd.” 

In addition to the cattle project, Hegg says through involvement and holding officer positions in the Huron FFA Chapter and Broadland Buddies 4-H Club he had the opportunity to learn what it means to be a leader. “Serving as an officer, I learned how to face problems head-on, and understand what it means to have other kids look up to you and the responsibility that comes with that.”

To learn more about how S.D. Farmers Union Insurance supports youth, visit www.sdfufoundation.org and to meet all the scholarship recipients, visit www.sdfufoundation.org.

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