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WIU Alumna Linda Meyer
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Harold and Ella Matson in 1922
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Matson Family Farm: Harold built the barn pictured with reclaimed lumber.
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Planting Futures: WIU Alumna Honors Family Through New Scholarship Fund

June 14, 2024

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MACOMB, IL - - From the farmlands outside Princeton, IL, to the classrooms of Knoblauch Hall on Western Illinois University's Macomb campus, one family's legacy is being immortalized through a new endowed scholarship fund for students in the School of Agriculture. Earlier this spring, Linda (Johnson) Meyer ‘82, Agricultural Science, reached out to the WIU Foundation to express interest in establishing a scholarship to honor her grandparents.

"They were such a big part of our growing up and in some ways I'm paying forward the benefits that I've received," Meyer said about her grandparents and their impact.

Harold farmed his whole life, and Ella was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse prior to the two marrying in 1922. Now Harold and Ella's commitment to farming and their belief in the transformative power of education will live on for future generations through the new Harold and Ella Matson Memorial Scholarship.

Meyer and her brother Keith Johnson inherited the family farm in 2012. Meyer, who now lives in Erie, CO, with her husband, Tom, is using some of her income from the annual sale of crops grown on the farm to fund the Matson Memorial Scholarship. Meyer worked with Director of Development for the College of Business and Technology (CBT) Liz Gougeon to finalize the criteria for scholarship.

The Matson Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually to a student pursuing a degree in Agriculture with a minor in Plant Breeding or Agronomy, honoring Harold's involvement in alfalfa seed test trials and seed corn sales. In line with Meyer's academic path, first-generation students will be first preference. The Matson Memorial Scholarship will be a first-of-its-kind opportunity for the School of Agriculture, with its focus on first-generation scholars.

Choosing WIU for college was an easy decision for Meyer.

"I may have visited one or two other schools, but there was something about Western," Meyer said. "From the first time I visited Western's campus, it just felt like home and the longer I was there the more I felt at home."

As a student, Meyer busied herself with several activities including membership in the Agricultural Mechanization Club, Alpha Zeta honors fraternity and the Agriculture Council.

"I loved my time as a student at Western. I never felt like I belonged anywhere until I went to Western," Meyer said. "Going to school there helped me grow in many different ways, not just academically. Westen just means friendship to me. It's family."

The growth and connections Meyer made during her time at WIU are still evident today, including a cherished friendship, meeting her best friend, Sue (Berry) Busker `82, Agriculture Science, on the 10th floor of Thompson Hall their sophomore year.

"Sue and her husband live in eastern Nebraska, and whenever we drive to or from the midwest, we usually spend a night with them," Meyer said. "She and I pick up and go from where we last left off."

Meyer continues to keep a strong relationship with WIU today, returning to Macomb every few years and always making a point to stop at the Alumni House. When there is a WIU alumni event in Colorado, Meyer is in attendance.

"We attend events in Colorado, and go see the Leathernecks in action whenever they come to Colorado. It's important to me to keep connected with Western," Meyer said.

Meyer's experiences at WIU and her grandparents' commitment to agriculture and education inspired her to establish this new scholarship fund.

"This is about honoring their commitment to education and paying forward all of the benefits that I've been given because of their hard work and their love for education," Meyer said. "I'm trying to give someone a hand up and help them fulfill their own dreams."

Meyer plans to have the scholarship fund fully endowed by June of 2025, and the scholarship will be awarded for the first time in the 2026 academic year.

"The Matson Memorial Scholarship will greatly enhance our ability to recruit and financially support students who are interested in Agronomy and/or Plant Breeding," School of Agriculture Director Andy Baker said. "Our Alternative Crops program and the Allison Organic Research Farm provide a unique educational experience for students pursuing an Ag Science degree in the option of Agronomy. We truly do appreciate the opportunity to represent the Matson family."

Individuals interested in providing financial support for programs within the CBT can contact Gougeon at Details about the For The W comprehensive campaign are available at

Posted By: Drew Donahoo (
Office of University Communications & Marketing