The Lincoln County Corn and Soybean Association awarded scholarships to 21 area seniors this month, rewarding the students for their grades and their work in the field of agriculture.
The money for the scholarships was raised at an auction during the association's annual meeting.
"We consistently have 150 or more people at the auction," board member Fran Fier said. "We had a really good turnout."
Items for auction were donated from area businesses and included everything from corn and beet seeds to a painting from Lake Benton artist Erik Gile.
"The companies that have been involved in it have been very good to us," association chairman Joel Schreurs said. "A bag of corn seed can range from $200 to $350. We have companies that donate several bags."
At the annual meeting, past scholarship recipients, FFA and 4-H students hold up the auction items as they are auctioned, hand out door prizes and clean up tables from the dinner.
Seniors from area schools applied by filling out a scholarship application. The application required a short essay, a letter of recommendation and a transcript of the student's grades. The winners are selected "based on scholastic, leadership, participation in other activities," Fier said.
The students must also commit to going on to further their education at either a two- or four-year college.
"We do give preference to students if they declare an Ag degree," Schreurs said.
This year 24 applicants applied and 21 are receiving scholarships, Schreurs said. The number applicants is up from previous years.
"We had four applicants last year and this year we had 24," he said.
Scholarships entries are reviewed by a five member team before the money is awarded. The scholarships range in amount with three different sizes being given out this year.
"They vary from $500 to $800," Schreurs said. "It all depends on how much money we get and how many applicants there are."
Student Jordan Wiesen said he found out about the scholarship from his FFA adviser and was encouraged to apply. Next year he will be attending South Dakota State University for animal science.
"I had to fill out a lot of my academic criteria and write an essay about how my intended major was going to help the corn and soybean industry," Wiesen said of the scholarship application. "I try to fill out each scholarship the best I can and hope that I win."
The Corn and Soybean Association was started in 2001 and has been giving out annual scholarships since its beginning, Fier said. The organization modeled its scholarship program after the state corn and soybean association.
"The state board gave out scholarships," she said. "We thought we could do it on our own."
The scholarships will be awarded at award ceremonies at area schools throughout the month.
"It's nice that there are organizations around there that try to help with paying for college," Wiesen said. "It is a huge task."