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Johnson Family Gifts $100,000 to WNCC Foundation
Nebraska Ag Connection - 05/15/2019

The Western Nebraska Community College Foundation received a gift from the family of H. Kaywood "Woody" Johnson, which will grow to $100,000 over the next decade. The H. Kaywood Johnson STEM Scholarship Endowment will benefit WNCC students from the Nebraska Panhandle who are studying STEM programs.

"We are incredibly pleased with the investment the Johnson family is making in the students of our region," WNCC President Dr. Todd Holcomb said. "Not only will it benefit students on all three of our campuses, this endowment will help strengthen the regional STEM industries, which is critical in advancing our community."

"The WNCC Foundation strives to provide students in our region with the resources they need to meet their career goals," said Kristin Wiebe, WNCC Major Gifts and Planned Giving Officer. "Because of the generosity of the Johnson family through the H. Kaywood Johnson Scholarship Endowment, more students will be afforded an opportunity to train for a career in the STEM industry for many years."

STEM encompasses students in any science-based, technology, engineering, or mathematics program of study. This would apply to students pursuing health sciences, as well as business and information technology. STEM field trained workers remain in high demand in the Panhandle and across the state.

The H. Kaywood Johnson STEM Scholarship Endowment will benefit students who are already in the STEM pipeline, including technology-based programming in the K-12 setting. A number of WNCC STEM programs of study allow students to enter the workforce directly after graduating, which means about half of WNCC students earn jobs in the region immediately after receiving a certificate or diploma.

"We are working to identify parameters for STEM programs of study, so that scholarships are available to as many students as possible in the coming years," said Career Pathways & Advising Director Tonya Hergenrader. "We are also working on ensuring a seamless transfer process, so students can complete their programs at a four-year institution. That's what guided pathways is all about - identifying high-need careers and helping bridge the gaps."

Woody's family wishes to honor his legacy through the endowment, hoping that it promotes the same value of hard work that Woody grew to appreciate growing up in Sidney. Woody earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Nebraska and went on to earn three patents during his career. During his career he worked for Cessna in airplane design, helped install manufacturing plants for antifreeze and Ziplock bags for Dow Chemical, and worked on designing artificial kidneys.

An endowment is any asset donated to and for the perpetual benefit of the WNCC Foundation. The donation is made with the requirement that the principal remain intact and money earned from investing the principal be used for a scholarship award or other purpose outlined in the endowment agreement. For more information on scholarships with the WNCC Foundation, please contact Jennifer Reisig or Alena Haun by calling the WNCC Foundation Office at 308-630-6550, or by email at

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