University News

Students Awarded "Growing Ag Sciences Teachers" Scholarships

May 31, 2012

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MACOMB, IL – Four students in Western Illinois University's School of Agriculture will benefit from GAST (Growing Agricultural Science Teachers) 2012 scholarships. According to Andrew Baker, professor of agricultural education, the four students include: Liz Fanning (Chestnut, IL), $1,000; Riley Hintzsche (Lindenwood, IL), $500; Trenton Taber (Atkinson, IL), $250; and Dan Schoeninger (Lanark, IL), $250.

"The scholarships are designed to assist new, incoming students majoring in agricultural education with financial support in pursuing their teaching certifications," Baker said. "The funds come through the GAST grant program and were awarded to Western Illinois University through the Illinois State Board of Education in Fall 2011."

He added that the GAST grant funds are specifically utilized for recruitment and retention purposes. According to Baker, currently, there are 44 openings for agricultural teachers in Illinois, with only 28 qualified candidates.

"There is truly a need to recruit and retain quality students who are interested in teaching agriculture," Baker noted.

Fanning, a senior, is set to student teach at West Prairie High School starting the Spring 2013 semester, and Hintzsche, a senior who transferred to Western in 2011, is scheduled to student teach in the Fall 2013 semester. Baker said Fanning and Hintzsche, as well as Taber and Schoeninger—who are both sophomores and started as freshman in Western's School of Ag—have been active members in the Collegiate FFA chapter, as well in the Agricultural Education Club and the Postsecondary Agricultural Student (PAS) Organization at WIU.

"I am very pleased with this year's recipients. All four of the recipients took different paths to get to this point in their college careers, and I am glad I can assist these students in whatever way possible to help fill positions across the State of Illinois," Baker noted. "This is the first step in recruitment and retention of future educators. The certification journey is difficult, but I hope this small token of financial assistance will aid in the retention of these candidates. They are a great group."

For more information, contact Baker at (309) 298-1246 or via email at Learn more about the WIU School of Agriculture at

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