Congratulations to our 2021 Scholarship Recipients

The Porter County 4-H Council is pleased to announce our 2021 Porter County 4-H Scholarship Recipients. These outstanding 4-Hers completed a thorough portfolio and participated in an interview with the Awards Committee. (Note to recipients: at the time of this post, if you have not yet received further information, it is on its way to you via mail.)

Nathan Kirk, Valparaiso

Nathan Kirk of the Center Wildcats 4-H Club is a recipient of a $5000 John Keller Memorial 4-H Scholarship and a $1500 Indiana 4-H Foundation Senior Scholarship. Nathan’s parents are Patti and Jim Kirk. Nathan plans to pursue a career path in acting and performing arts and will be studying Acting at DePaul University.

Wise words from Nathan: “4-H has been a very rewarding experience for me. The values and life skills I’ve learned from being a part of 4-H will always remain with me and will benefit me throughout my entire life. My Center Wildcats 4-H Club gave me so many opportunities to volunteer, and I think the most important thing I’ve learned is the importance of service to others. 4-H highlighted the importance of making life better for others, and my club made volunteering easy and less intimidating. Thanks to my experiences in 4-H, I intend to continue to serve and advocate for others throughout my entire life. 4-H helped me realize that even the smallest gesture of kindness or service is beneficial if it helps even one person.”

Paige Pressel, Morgan Township

Paige Pressel of the Morgan Hustling Hoosiers 4-H Club is a recipient of a $5000 John Keller Memorial 4-H Scholarship. Paige is the daughter of Deb and Kevin Pressel. Paige has been accepted to Huntington University and plans to pursue a career in occupational therapy.

Wise words from Paige: “Being a ten year member of 4-H causes me to look back and realize how far I have come in my 4-H career. I have pushed myself to try new things, and I have stayed up late to make deadlines. I have failed, I have succeeded, and all in all I have become a better person. The future holds a lot of challenges but through 4-H, I have learned that you can make time for everything. When I go off to college, I’m hoping to become an occupational therapist. I am certain that the 4-H experience and training has been beneficial to my life. I feel that I am well put together for whatever comes my way.”

Emma Rakowski, Morgan Township

Emma Rakowski of the Morgan Hustling Hoosiers 4-H Club is a recipient of a $5000 John Keller Memorial 4-H Scholarship and a $1500 Indiana 4-H Foundation Senior Scholarship. Emma is the daughter of Bryan and Dawn Rakowski. Emma has been accepted to Purdue University where she will study for a career in nursing.

Wise words from Emma: “… Most importantly, I have developed many lifelong friendships throughout my 4-H career that I will always treasure. The sense of family and community that 4-H instills in those who are lucky enough to be a part of it is effortless. It is not something that requires any thought. It is automatic the moment you set foot in that barn. Everyone there is a part of this great big family who all share the same passion and who are always there to offer a helping hand or a pat on the back for a job well done. This feeling of unity has always given me hope. Hope that in a world full of division, 4-H will always be the place for a kid to come to feel at home..”

Shelby Whitaker, Morgan Township

Shelby Whitaker of the Morgan Hustling Hoosiers 4-H Club is a recipient of a $5000 John Keller Memorial 4-H Scholarship and a $1500 Indiana 4-H Foundation Senior Scholarship . Shelby is the daughter of James and Destiny Whitaker. Shelby has been accepted to Purdue University where she will pursue a major in Agricultural Communications to pursue a career in agriculture, food, and/or natural resources.

Wise words from Shelby: An occurrence as a camp counselor… “caused me to realize just how influential [one] can be on someone without even knowing. What seemed like a small act to get a camper involved turned out to be a major life event for that young girl. It taught me how leadership can be found in all types and kinds, whether you’re leading one person or an entire group. There’s an old saying that talks about how little eyes are always watching, and that couldn’t be more true. One never knows who is watching, or how significant an aftereffect of an experience can be. The young girl, whose name I now know and will always remember, caused me to reevaluate my life in regard to these small matters and in demonstrating leadership to others. She gave me an understanding on being an influence and a leader not only towards people I know but even those whom I may not.”

Savannah Wood, Indiana Connections Academy

Savannah Wood of the Lakeshore Drifters 4-H Club is a recipient of a $5000 John Keller Memorial 4-H Scholarship. Savannah is the daughter of Teri Faulkner. Savannah plans to attend Valparaiso University and will pursue a career in pediatric or NICU nursing with a focus on gastrointestinal patients.

Wise words from Savannah: “…An immense decision was made… stepping into another leadership role as a LaPorte-Porter 4-H Camp Counselor. Taking my mind and changing my perspective on many areas I never knew affected me so deeply. I never seemed to voice my opinions or be confident enough and clear in directing my answers when trying to advocate for my stance on a topic, or myself for that matter. How was I going to be able to direct younger 4-H members and mentor them? … During my first year in being a Camp Counselor I learned and was encouraged by my team members and Extension Educators (Joan – Porter Co. & MJ – LaPorte Co.). They are a huge reason and influence of my perspective being changed and directed into the correct mindset.”

Brianna Gast, Valparaiso

Brianna Gast of the Center Wildcats 4-H Club is a recipient of a $1500 Emily Jane Seramur Memorial 4-H Scholarship. Brianna is the daughter of Julia and Steve Gast. Brianna plans to attend Purdue University to study Pre-Veterinary medicine and pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

Wise words from Brianna: “One of the most important things that I have taken away from 4-H is all the relationships that you gain. … [my 4-H leader] has helped me overcome so much and has always been a helping hand when I need it. …having her to always be there for me is priceless. Without 4-H I wouldn’t have this relationship and for that I am forever grateful. Overall 4-H has taught me so much through the years and one of my biggest regrets is not joining earlier. I will forever cherish the memories and experiences I have had in 4-H and have those guide me in my future.”

Nate Krause, Boone Grove

Nate Krause of the Boone Grove Future Farmers 4-H Club is a recipient of a $1500 Porter County 4-H Alumni Memorial Scholarship. Nate is the son of Roy and Karen Krause. Nate has been accepted to Vincennes University where we will study for a career in precision machining.

Wise words from Nate: “I learned a lot about meeting new people through 4-H. Everyone should have the social skills needed to meet new people, and 4-H helped me a lot with attaining those skills. I remember being terribly nervous about going on the 4-H roundup trip. My mother signed me up for it and I desperately tried to convince her to let me stay home. The thought of staying at Purdue University for multiple days with no one that I knew terrified me, because it was way out of my comfort zone. However, I’m extremely grateful that I went because I ended up having a great time and I met so many new people. The way the camp was organized, it was really easy to meet new people and make new friends. I still remember everyone in the group of people I stuck with throughout the trip. I still remain in touch with a couple of the guys in the group. The 4-H roundup trip pushed me out of my comfort zone in a way that I needed. Ever since then, I have had no problem talking to people I don’t know.”

Mark Akert, Homeschool

Mark Akert of the Lakeshore Drifters 4-H Club is a recipient of a $1000 John Swarner Memorial 4-H Scholarship. Mark is the son of Mike and Kristyn Akert. Mark will attend Trinity International University where he will pursue a degree in Exercise Science to prepare for a career as an athletic trainer and coach.

Wise words from Mark: “The first line [of the 4-H Pledge] is “I pledge my head to clearer thinking.” The parts of 4-H that have impacted my thinking skills would be the projects. Deadlines, filling out paperwork, completing projects, and showing exhibits at the county fair have improved my critical thinking skills and helped me be a better and clearer thinker. For example, in the Dog project, the dog’s veterinarian needs to fill out paperwork in order for the dog to show in the fair and participate in the workshops. The deadline was coming up and I hadn’t done the paperwork yet, so I had to make good use of my time in order to get all the necessary paperwork in order to show my dog.”

About the Porter County 4-H Memorial Scholarships:

John Keller Memorial:  John Keller was the 4-H Youth Extension Agent in Porter County from 1975 until his passing in 1984.  He and his wife Mary Ann were the parents of three children.  John loved working with young people and was very dedicated to his family and the youth of Porter County.  He loved sports and often officiated at sporting events. Money from the 4-H Foods Auction is used to support this scholarship in his memory.

Emily Jane Seramur Memorial:  Emily Seramur was a member of the Boone Busters 4-H Club.  She had just completed third grade when she passed away from a rare heart/lung disease in 2004.  Despite her lifelong illness, Emily was a very active member of her 4-H club and participated in Share-the-Fun, parades, and many community service activities.  She especially enjoyed attending meetings, doing her projects, and attending the Porter County Fair.  With this scholarship we celebrate her life and all that 4-H meant to her.

John Swarner Memorial:  Dr. John Swarner was a well-respected physician in Porter County.  He and his wife Bonnie became very involved helping with the rabbit and goat projects when their children were members of 4-H.  Fair week would find him helping out in the barns in any way he could.  Dr. Swarner was also a strong supporter of the Porter County 4-H Livestock Auction.

Alumni Memorial:  The Alumni Memorial Scholarship is given in memory of all former 4-H members who have passed away.