Midwest Messenger has a new program that aims to help its younger readers with college expenses.

Our Producer Progress Reports, with our farmers, ranchers and feeders supplying updates on their operations, have long been among the most read parts of the Messenger and its news predecessor, Midwest Producer. Now we’d like to add younger views.

Students in their junior or senior year of high school are eligible to become Producer Progress Reporters, a 26-week program that will result in a $500 scholarship. The 13 reports, written every other week, also would earn letters of reference and recommendation, and the possibility of an internship with Midwest Messenger.

Those chosen will be required to have active membership in a 4-H club or FFA chapter in Nebraska or Kansas. Two will be selected for each quarter of the year. Their reports will need to be about their own farm or ranch experiences, or they may align with another producer. Either way, they need to have a personal connection with a producer (family member, neighbor, or possibly someone affiliated with 4-H or FFA.

The applications must include a writing sample of 250 to 350 words that describes the agricultural operation they plan to follow and why they want to be part of the program. Applicants need to have a general interest in agriculture, communications or journalism.

A three-person panel will determine who will get to write the reports and receive the scholarship. Applicants should contact Ashley Olson at 402-374-3018 or Ashley.olson@lee.net to obtain materials and other information.

There is no deadline for applications, since it’s a continuing program. But the sooner we receive applications, the sooner the program can begin.

This is not the first time the Messenger has helped those in FFA or 4-H. Last year we awarded cash to chapters and clubs that were recognized as our club or chapter of the week.

South Dakota, meet Jaclyn

We became acquainted with Jaclyn Wilson when she became a Producer Progress Reporter for Midwest Producer, well, a few years ago. Sometimes, I told myself to hold my breath as I opened her emails. You just never knew what was coming.

When her year of reports finished, I didn’t want to lose the spontaneity that she presented in her reports, so we offered her a position to write a blog every week or so for our website. That led to her writing a column for our print publications that distributed throughout Nebraska and Kansas.

Since September, our western Nebraska rancher has presented her stories every week. Effective this month, her readership is growing when Tri-State Neighbor, our sister publication based in South Dakota, starts printing her columns.

Jaclyn is one of the busiest people I know. Her columns retell her life on the ranch and its multiple locations, her cattle breeding business, her endless slate of local, state, regional and national activities, tales about The Boss Man and The Boss Man’s Wife, and anything else that might cross her path.

Her columns consistently rank among the most-read on our Midwest Messenger website and sometimes have been known to occupy three of the top five positions. She has that type of a following.

We’re thrilled that her words will be shared with more and more readers.

Special videos online

At the Nebraska Power Farming Show in Lincoln, we convinced a dozen or so show visitors to be recorded while they answered questions about their farm lives. Those interviews have been edited and packaged professionally, and now everyone can watch and listen.

Find them on the Midwest Messenger homepage, www.midwestmessenger.com.

Reporter honored

I think I’ve accumulated an excellent crew of freelance writers, who keep you informed and entertained. Each has unique qualities and, as shown when I give them assignments with very little time to produce, they can all produce quickly.

Some are great interviewers, either in person or on the phone. Some are agriculture producers themselves. Some have won awards for their writing. Others have stood out because of what they’ve accomplished in their lives.

Rebecca Long Chaney, from Elwood, Neb., is one of those. She grew up in Maryland and moved to Nebraska several years ago to live on a 3,500-acre ranch where the family helps manage a Red Angus cow/calf operation.

Recently, she was named the Young Dairy Leaders Institute’s Distinguished Alumni Leader by the Holstein Foundation.

The foundation recognizes one YDLI graduate annually who has made noteworthy contributions and applied skills gained during their YDLI experience for the advancement of the dairy industry. Chaney was a graduate of YDLI Class 2.

Chaney and her twin daughters are authors of an agriculture educational book series, “The Chaney Twins’ Ag Books.” She also serves as the coach of the Nebraska Dairy Judging Team and the National Brown Swiss Fundraising Committee for the 2020 World Brown Swiss Conference. At World Dairy Expo, she helps evaluate udders for the over-bagging research study.

Chaney was recognized during a YDLI program in Phoenix.

Terry Anderson grew up on a small family farm south of Osceola, Neb. He became news editor of all agriculture publications at Plaindealer Publishing in 2003. He can be reached at terry.anderson@lee.net.