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Ellie Jarecke of Culbertson, Nebraska, and William Huebner of Hershey, Nebraska, exemplify the tradition of individuals and families engaged in Nebraska agriculture.
They are recent recipients of the Sylvia Clawson English Memorial for the Fred and Edna Hecht Scholarship. Awarded by the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA), each student received a $2,500 award to help with their tuition.
Members of the Hecht family annually recognize NCTA students in commemoration of their own family’s heritage in southwest Nebraska by giving to their scholarship fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation. They value higher education and students who pursue a career which benefits the state and rural communities.
Part of the University of Nebraska system, NCTA is a two-year institution in Curtis, Nebraska, with a statewide mission of preparing students for careers in agriculture, veterinary technology and related industries.
The goal of Ellie Jarecke is to become an agricultural educator and teach high school students.
“I had an amazing ag teacher for two years of high school (Lauren Miller from Sumner) who taught me so much and brought out the love for agriculture education I have today,” Jarecke said.
Jarecke was raised on the family farm with a seed business and spent much of her time in the welding shop at home. She was active in FFA at McCook High School and 4-H for 12 years and was a summer intern in 2021 at the Hitchcock, Dundy and Hayes County Nebraska Extension office.
Originally, Jarecke was majoring in business at Lincoln, but she returned to her southwest Nebraska roots to attend NCTA and work at a McCook nursing home.
“I have worked throughout my high school and college careers to be able to be the first generation of my family to get a bachelor’s degree,” she said.
Jarecke majored in agriculture education at NCTA and in August transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications. After completing the program and student teaching, she will graduate from UNL in 2024.
Scholarships have opened doors. Eventually, Jarecke says she may obtain her master’s degree.
His family’s Nebraska farm has served as inspiration for William Huebner of Hershey. While attending Hershey High School, the 2020 graduate excelled in academics and athletics. At NCTA, his studies in Agriculture Production Systems had an emphasis in diversified agriculture with agribusiness, crops and livestock.
At NCTA, he was a member of Student Senate, Phi Theta Kappa academic honorary and intramural sports.
After graduating with honors in May, Huebner is back at the family operation located south of Hershey.
One benefit of attending NCTA, Huebner says, was proximity, being an hour from home. He returned weekends and during busiest seasons to assist his family.
Gaining skills in precision agriculture, animal nutrition, ration formulation and beef cattle artificial insemination were among academic highlights.
The APS Capstone class in his final semester pulled together the many components for managing an agricultural business, he said.
Huebner received the memorial scholarship both his freshmen and sophomore years.
Family heritage honored
The student scholarship in memory of Sylvia Clawson English is tribute to the 1947 alumna of the Nebraska School of Agriculture (a high school) and to the heritage of her parents, Ira and Vinnie Clawson, her maternal grandparents, Fred and Edna Hecht, and paternal grandparents, Jake and Ida May Clawson, all farming families in the region.
Fred Hecht was a leading advocate for the State of Nebraska to select Curtis as the site of a new, residential, agricultural high school for rural residents. The school opened in fall of 1913.
Clawson English had a desire to see that her grandfather’s efforts in agriculture and education be sustained. She died in 2009 in California, where she and husband, Ted English, had raised their family.
The Fred and Edna Hecht Scholarship fund was established through a fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation. It continues through support from descendants of the family.
For information about opportunities to support the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, contact Kristen Houska at 402-458-1245 or 800-432-3216.