Burke Scholars Hard at Work

Burke Scholars Hard at Work

Monday, September 16, 2019
For sophomore agribusiness majors Madi Baker and Caden Theis, college thus far has been fun and challenging. Both Baker, at Concordia University, and Theis, at Doane University, are being helped along in their studies by scholarships from the Upper Big Blue NRD.  

Baker and Theis are recipients of 2019 Raymond A. Burke scholarships, which support district residents pursuing two- or four-year degrees in a natural resources related field as a full time student at a Nebraska college or university.

Madi (photo above) is the daughter of Owen and Kari Baker of Stromsburg. She graduated in 2018 from Cross County High School with an impressive academic record: a 4.0 GPA, class salutatorian status, and a leadership role in the school’s National Honor Society chapter. She was also student council vice president, FFA chapter president, and softball team captain. At Concordia, she is the founder of an ag club and participates in a business club as well as intramural sports. She is also on the residence hall staff and is a leader among her peers.
Baker worked as a farm hand and a landscaper during the summer months of her high school years around Stromsburg. She is enthusiastic about a career in agribusiness, as it will give her the opportunity to combine her love of working with people and with her hands, as well as engage her passion for growing things. “I’m excited about the opportunities that lie ahead,” she said.

Caden Theis works on a center pivot systemCaden is the son of Dan and Amy Theis of Osceola. He is a 2018 graduate of Osceola High School, where he was a member of National Honor Society, FFA, the football team, and the basketball team. During the summers, he worked a variety of jobs including packing eggs in a chicken farm, construction, and center pivot sales and service. At Doane, Theis is on the football team and serves as a volunteer firefighter in his spare time. He also volunteered with sandbagging during this spring’s floods across the state.

Theis’ extended family raises row crops and cattle. He loves hard work and being outside, so was drawn to a career in natural resources and agriculture. “I’ve been around ag my whole life. I’m really enjoying studying it at school. It’s what I want to do when I graduate,” said Theis who is particularly interested in the irrigation industry and has plans to start a business in his hometown after finishing his degree.

Raymond BurkeEach Baker and Theis will receive a $2,000 scholarship through the Burke fund. The family of Raymond A. Burke established this scholarship in his memory, as he was passionate about natural resources and education. Burke was a land improvement contractor and farmer and served for 40 years on the elected boards of the Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District.

Applications for 2020 Burke Scholars will be due in April. To apply, visit www.upperbigblue.org/education.