Ashley Hagenow thanked the Herb Kohl Foundation for creating a win-win situation for her.
The Rio High School student will either spend 2018-19 as an FFA state officer or she’ll immediately utilize a sizable college scholarship.
“I’m really excited either way, and I feel very fortunate,” said Hagenow, one of 191 graduating seniors in the state to receive $10,000 from the foundation in 2018.
If the Kohl Foundation Excellence Scholar wins a state officer position at the conclusion of the state FFA convention in June, Hagenow will serve middle and high school students as a spokeswoman in various FFA leadership workshops and conferences.
If she doesn’t win it, she’ll attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in the fall, where she’ll major in agricultural communication and marketing with a minor in animal science.
“It’s well deserved because she’s such a hard worker,” Rio High School Principal Dana Tait said of the senior’s Excellence Scholarship. “She’s dedicated, mature beyond her years and very organized. It’s not a surprise that the selection committee saw that come through in her application materials.”
Hagenow, of Poynette, is on track to be valedictorian of Rio’s class of 2018, Tait said.
“I think it’s important in high school to be involved in activities that characterize your leadership experiences and volunteerism,” Hagenow said of her high school years. She is a student council member, has been her class president in all four years of high school and has been an FFA member since she was first eligible to join as a seventh-grader.
Hagenow will submit an application for the FFA state officer position before the end of this month, later undergoing interviews and completing an FFA knowledge exam and writing activity. If she wins, she would then attend college at the conclusion of her year of service, deferring her Kohl scholarship payment to 2019-20. Hagenow recently earned her Wisconsin State FFA Degree to qualify as a candidate for the state officer position.
During her six years in FFA, Hagenow has shown and judged dairy cattle at various state fairs and expos. She also shows horses and rabbits.
After college, Hagenow wants to work in public relations or marketing for an agricultural company while also working in agricultural advocacy.
“I firmly believe that having a career in agriculture, especially in public relations, is crucial to the future of the agriculture industry as it is more important now than ever that the agricultural industry have strong and passionate leaders at its helm,” she said in an email. “As a young agriculturist, I realize how important it is to educate and inform others of agriculture’s significance and importance to our world, especially as the challenge of feeding more people with less land and resources grows larger with every passing day.
“By having a career in this area, I would have the ability to educate large audiences on how crucial agriculture is to the sustainability of our planet.”
“She is so involved in everything,” Tait said. “Even on paper she looked like a highly desirable candidate for scholarships and universities, whatever it may be. She’s a strong advocate for herself, has a strong voice and that comes across in everything she puts her hands in.”