2019 Scholarship Winners



Matthew Lloyd – Winner of the John Sheriff-Dan Lloyd Memorial Scholarship  

Matthew Lloyd is the son of Tom and Kyle Lloyd of Aledo. He is graduating from Black Hawk College, East Campus this Spring 2019 majoring in Agriculture.  He plans to transfer to either University of Illinois or Oklahoma State University to study Agriculture Economics/Business.  He is 2017 graduate of Mercer County High School.  At Mercer County High School, Matthew was a member of the National Honor Society, graduated in the top 10 of his class, and was very active in FFA serving as the Mercer County FFA Sentinel, Secretary, and President. He was also selected as the FFA Star Chapter Farmer, received his FFA State Degree, and has applied for his American degree. At Black Hawk East, he is an Ag Ambassador and a member of the Ag Business club.

Matthew says, “It is very humbling to receive a scholarship that honors two very influential agriculturalists from our area.  These funds will help me pay for my education and later help me give back to the community like them.”

Nicholas Close

Nicholas Close is the son of Greg and Brenda Close of Reynolds. He is attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign majoring in Agricultural and Consumer Economics, Farm Management Concentration and plans to return to his family’s farm to raise corn and soybeans upon graduation.  At University of Illinois, Close has made the Dean’s List for the College of Agricultural Consumer and Environmental Sciences and was recognized for getting the highest combined GPA at Nabor House, a Christian Cooperative House, where his is the pledge class President.  He is a 2017 graduate of Mercer County High School.  At Mercer County High School, Nicholas was the Valedictorian of the class of 2017. He was an Illinois State Scholar, National Honor Society member, and a member of the Society for Academic Achievement. Close was selected as the State FFA Diversified Crop Production Entrepreneurship CDE winner.

Nicholas says, “I appreciate how the Mercer County Farm Bureau has supported me so that I can give my undivided attention to my coursework in practical classes such as accounting, farm management, crop sciences and economics.  I know that college is preparing me to achieve my goal of helping manage the family farm.  Also I am glad I have chosen to attend our state’s land grant institution, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”

Tori Speer

Tori Speer is the daughter of Annette & Doyle Speer of Aledo.  Tori is graduating this Spring 2019 from Mercer County High School and will be attending Northwest Missouri State University to study Agronomy.  Tori has been on High Honor Roll all 4 years of high school and received the Horticulture award for her college Horticulture class her junior year. She is the FFA President and been in 4-H for 10 years with Hamlet Handy Helpers including President for 3 years.  She’s also been in 4-H Federation for 5 years and currently the President. 

Tori says, “The Farm Bureau has shown me the value of hard work.  Whenever I have helped with an event that is requested of me, I see what goes into the event by the staff.  All the planning and getting everything ready to assure the event goes smoothly…Farm Bureau overall is a great organization that changes the lives and gives great opportunities.”    

Allison Lloyd

Allison Lloyd is the daughter of David and Kimberly Lloyd of Reynolds.  Allison is graduating this Spring 2019 from Mercer County High School and will be attending Black Hawk East College where she plans to study Animal Science.  She is in the Top 10 of her class and a member of National Honor Society, FFA Secretary and former Treasurer, and is currently the Student Council President.  She is active in her church youth group and 4-H and shows livestock at Mercer County Fair.  Her goal is to become a livestock artificial insemination technician or veterinary technician and would like to take over the family farm one day. 

Allison says, “Farm Bureau has a positive impact on me, my family and our community.  Farm Bureau has helped agriculture thrive. This association uses educational techniques, raises money and promotes agriculture to better the neighborhood we live in today.”

Brandi Welch

Brandi Welch is the daughter of James and Kerri Welch of Aledo. Brandi is attending Iowa State University majoring in Animal Science focusing on Pre-Veterinary Medicine. Some of her activities include the Iowa State University Block and Bridle Club, Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority and Pre-Veterinary Club Member.  Brandi is a 2016 graduate of Mercer County High School, where she graduated in the top 10 of her class. She was a Black Hawk College Presidential Scholar, member of National Honor Society, Sigma Kappa Delta, and Phi Theta Kappa. Brandi was a 9 year member of Mercer County 4-H and a member of the Mercer County FFA Chapter serving as Reporter and Secretary. She was also a member of Black Hawk College Student Ag Ambassador Team and a member of the Ag Business Club.

Brandi says, “My career goal is to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and hopefully even return to my hometown where I can take over the practice that I started at.”

Gage Hank

Gage Hank is the son of Jeff and Trisha Hank of Aledo. He is currently attending Western Illinois University majoring in Ag Business with a minor in Ag Finance.  This summer (2019) he will be a commodity marketing intern with Cargill in Nebraska in the oils and starches division.  Some of his activities have included Western Illinois University Hoof-n-Horn Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Lakeland College Show Pig Sale Committee. He is a 2016 graduate of Mercer County High School where he was active in FFA, graduated in the top 10 of his class, was a member of the National Honor Society, and won the Aledo Exchange Club Youth of the Year Award.

Gage says, “I have always been interested in finance and investments and was fascinated with the Trading Floor at the Cargill headquarters.  My strengths in math and numbers paired with my people skills and real-life agriculture knowledge will help me make a positive impact in the agriculture industry.  My goal is to help farmers with commodity marketing, profitability analysis and financial planning.  Farmers today need to be fully aware of running profitable businesses, especially in these times of tight farm margins.”

Brynn Bergen

Brynn Bergen is the daughter of Dan and Dawn Bergen of Aledo. She will be transferring from Wheaton College to Western Illinois University and double major in Ag Science and Psychology.  Upon completing her Bachelor’s Degree, she plans to go on for her Master’s Degree in School Psychology.  Brynn was a 2019 graduate of Mercer County High School where she was a member of the Mercer County FFA Chapter serving as President and Reporter. She was Captain of Varsity Cheerleading, concert band, Key Club, and National Honor Society. She received her State FFA Degree, the DeKalb Award, Ag Business Award, and FFA Star Greenhand Award. She was also a member of the Society for Academic Achievement, a DAR Good Citizen, and an Illinois State Scholar.

Brynn says, “Working in a career that is both challenging and rewarding will allow me to be the hands and feet of Jesus while assisting others.  Once reaching this educational goal, I will begin my career as a School Psychologist in a rural school district where I will install interactive agricultural programs and “farm therapy” to reduce anxiety and get kids excited about agriculture.”   

Avery Yung

Avery is the son of Brian and Paula Yung of Alexis.  He is graduating this Spring 2019 from United High School and then plans to attend Black Hawk East then transfer to Western Illinois University to major in Agronomy.  While attending United High School Avery has been on the High Honors list all 4 years and inducted into the National Honor Society.  He has been active in FFA and is currently the President of his club.  He is an active volunteer in the community including North Henderson Fireman’s breakfast and pork chop dinner, United North Elementary Ag Night, Prime Beef Festival, Warren/Henderson Farm Safety Day Camp and has attended the Farm Bureau Youth Conference.  He has also been a 4-year member of the golf team.  His goal is to work as an Agronomist or other career in Agronomy.

Avery says, “ Thank you for choosing me to receive this scholarship.  I am going to use the money to pay for my tuition while studying agronomy at Black Hawk East and then transfer to Western Illinois University.  Farm Bureau has had many positive impacts on me, my family and my community.  Hopefully in the future I will be able to become a member and pass on these experiences to future generations.”

**New last year (2018) was the John Sheriff – Dan Lloyd Memorial Scholarship in memory of Mercer County Farm Bureau Foundation Founders John Sheriff and Dan Lloyd.  If you’d like to donate to the John Sheriff-Dan Lloyd Scholarship fund, please contact the Farm Bureau office.  Also, if you’d like to have a scholarship established in your name, please contact the Farm Bureau at (309) 582-5116.