Local students awarded scholarships by MCAS


Pictured, from left are MCAS Board President Chris Schreier, Cashton recipient Bonita Hanley, MCAS board members LeAnna Rowan and Dave Kuehl. Herald photos by Nicole Vik.

Pictured, from left are MCAS Board President Chris Schreier, Tomah recipient Carisa Cleven and MCAS board members LeAnna Rowan and Dave Kuehl.

The Monroe County Agricultural Society (MCAS,) promotor of the Monroe County Fair and the Budweiser Dairyland Super National Truck & Tractor Pull recently awarded scholarships to two local students.

In an effort to recognize its community's outstanding leadership in young people and help local students reach their academic goals, the MCAS awards up to four scholarships of $500 every year.

The award selection is based on participation in a youth organization approved by the MCAS board such as 4H, FFA or the Boys & Girls Club along with community service activities and volunteer work within Monroe County.

To be eligible, scholarship applicants must also attend or have attended school in either the Brookwood, Cashton, Tomah or Sparta school districts and plan to enroll in an accredited two or four-year college or university. Applicants can also currently be enrolled in a four-year college or one or two-year technical college.

This year’s Cashton recipient, Bonita Hanley, daughter of Dan and Lorraine Hanley, is a 2021 graduate of Cashton High School and a member and officer of Cashton FFA.

Her work experience includes babysitting and working at Westby Coop Credit Union.

Hanley enjoys giving back to her community. She has served mass at her local church for the past seven years and she volunteers at local benefits and fundraisers for area people in need.

Through Cashton FFA, Hanley helps teach third graders at Cashton Elementary School about FFA and other agricultural topics. She also volunteers with her 4-H Club, the Jolly Joiners, working Fruit for Families at the Cashton Cupboard and Closet, caroling at Rolling Hills Nursing Home and preparing baskets to recognize and support local veterans.

Through 4-H, she has been a cabin camp counselor for one year, outpost camp counselor for two years and a day camp counselor this past summer.

This fall, Hanley plans to attend University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point majoring in elementary education and minoring in special education.

“Once I graduate from college, my goal is to teach first graders in a rural school district,” Hanley said. “I enjoy working with children, so I have been babysitting for local families for the past four years.”

Tomah recipient, Carisa Cleven, daughter of Conrad and Debra Cleven, is a Tomah High School graduate and past member of the Tomah FFA Chapter. Cleven currently serves as the Wisconsin State FFA Vice President in Spencer.

She is also attending the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) studying agricultural education with minors in Spanish and biology education.

“Agriculture and education have always been close to my heart,” Cleven said. “I strive to cultivate a love for learning and a passion for agriculture and science within my students as an agriscience teacher in Wisconsin.”

As an FFA advisor, Cleven looks forward to encouraging the growth of her students’ leadership skills along with their personal growth through FFA. “It’s important for students to learn who they are and where their food comes from as well as how it is processed,” she said.

“I seek to share the science behind agriculture with my students in a hands-on, positive learning environment. I strive to educate so that people can in turn share what they learn with those they meet,” Cleven added.

Cleven has worked as an honors floor resident assistant in River Falls, an office assistant and teaching assistant at UWRF Agricultural Education Department, a dance teacher at Marilyn School of Dance in Tomah and a nanny since 2015.

She has volunteered as a farm hand at Cleven Farms in Kendall since 2008. She handles the care, feeding, watering and bedding of animals as well as facilitating learning centers with her family twice each summer to engage community members in agricultural activities.

From 2015-2018, while she was in high school, Cleven volunteered as an elementary nutrition class teacher and coordinator through Tomah FFA. She was responsible for coordinating the program, in which six high school students taught approximately 200 elementary-aged students about the benefits of eating a healthy diet and where their food comes from.

Cleven has also volunteered as a workshop presenter through the Chisago County Extension Water Festival in Chisago, MN.

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