WCO Honors 2 Scholarship Winners

Wisconsin Custom Operators, Inc. (WCO) recently awarded two scholarships to students pursuing further education. These students were selected based on leadership, civic engagement, academics, and volunteer activities related to agriculture. Students also submitted essays detailing their educational and vocational plans for the future. Scholarship winners are required to have ties to the WCO. They should either be a member, relative or employee of a member, or a relative of a member-client. Students received a $1,000 or $1,500 scholarship.

“WCO understands that continued success of Wisconsin’s agricultural economy depends on a well-trained workforce,” said Joseph Sanford, chairman of the WCO Scholarship and Awards Committee. “We also recognize that there are a growing number of training opportunities to fulfill this need, ranging from traditional college experiences to trade and apprenticeship programs.”

Kaleb Ellis

Kaleb Ellis of Independence, Wis. was selected to receive the $1,500 Robert Hoerth Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship honors WCO Past President Robert Hoerth who passed away unexpectedly in early 2020. This award is given to the most deserving scholarship applicant based on their alignment to the overall criteria. Kaleb recently earned his class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) and is already working toward his goal of starting a custom farming business. Last summer he joined a large custom farming crew and harvested wheat and other crops across Washington state and Idaho. Back in Wisconsin, Kaleb is an employee of Dan Val Farms LLC, a custom farming business owned by his uncle Chris Ellis. In his free time, Kaleb raises 85-100 Duroc hogs and rents 100 acres of row crop ground.

Emily Volmer

Emily Volmer of Hilbert, Wis. received a $1,000 scholarship. She is a freshman at Drake University majoring in politics with plans to attend law school to pursue a career in public service and government. Emily credits her interest in U.S. history for sparking her passion in government and the reason she wants to work in public service. Emily is the daughter of Greg and Jennifer Volmer, owners of Midlakes Custom Services LLC and long-time members of WCO. From an early age, Emily developed a strong work ethic by helping in the family business assisting with miscellaneous tasks like picking rocks, transporting employees, and helping in the office.

2024 Applications

Applications for the 2024 WCO scholarship are being accepted through May 1. Interested students should visit https://wiscustomoperators.org/about/scholarships.php for more information including eligibility, criteria and application.

In 2024, three (3) awards will be given: Two (2) $1,000 scholarships and the $1,500 Robert Hoerth Memorial Scholarship.

To be eligible, applicants may have direct family ties to a current WCO member or to an employee of a WCO member. Applicants may also be a member themselves. In addition, A WCO member may nominate a scholarship applicant who does not meet the above criteria. For example, if a WCO member has a customer who has an exemplary son, daughter, or employee, they are eligible to apply.

The program has been expanded to include any post-secondary training program including traditional college experiences and career training programs such CDL truck driver training courses, pesticide applicator training program/exam, or other industry relevant training programs. Individuals on a non-academic post-secondary education path searching for career opportunity in the industry such as joining a harvest crew or other apprenticeship program, are also encouraged to apply.