Investing in Our Youth

It’s scholarship season, which means the Fayette Community Foundation is encouraging our local students to apply for these opportunities to continue their education at an accredited institution of higher education. The Fayette Community Foundation is incredibly grateful for all of the scholarships offered to local students, but awarding them tends to be a bittersweet moment for us because it means those students have to leave the area to continue their education – and most do not return home to build a life here in Fayette County. We’re not alone – many small, rural communities feel the sting when young, talented individuals leave to pursue opportunities elsewhere.  

Robby Marschand, a local past recipient of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship program, was sensitive to this issue as he was being evaluated for the scholarship. “I said in my Lilly interview that I always planned on coming back to Fayette County. I meant it. I knew I could always come home for the holidays if I left, but I’d end up missing things,” he said. “In a way, I wanted to give back to the community that helped me go to college.” Now, he’s doing just that. 

Coming Home & Making a Difference 

After earning his degree in Agricultural Engineering from Purdue, Robby Marschand kept his word and returned home to Connersville. Family is what drew him back: “It’s great to be back for more than just the important things a few times a year,” he said. He initially took a job at Rose Acre Farms in Seymour, Indiana, where he was able to get some valuable industry experience but wanted to be closer to family and his home community. When an offer came for a position in Connersville at Howden Roots, Marschand knew it was the right move. 

Since then, he’s been working on building a life for himself in Fayette County. We had the opportunity to ask his opinion on what our community can do to make itself more attractive for youth to settle down in and what advice he might have for young people looking to build a career. 

On finding your purpose… 

“Start early! Take on part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities to try things out and see what you like and dislike about particular fields. This might help you narrow down what you’d like to study in college or if you have a career field you want to enter right after high school.” 

On finding opportunity anywhere… 

“There’s nothing wrong with working somewhere else while you figure things out – I did. Soft skills are important – such as communication with customers – and you’ll learn that at a job like Dairy Queen (where I worked), so it adds value to your experience. No matter what job have, you’ll have a “customer,” whether its internal or external, and you have to learn how to interact with your customers.” 

On getting younger generations involved in the community… 

“To be honest, I haven’t been asked much to get involved and I’m not aware of what groups are out there and want younger people as members. Each generation has had its share of experiences and has hardworking individuals who want to be involved and share that knowledge and experience. We suggest a proactive approach: ask the youth to join your service organization. Invite them to sit with you and share how your group impacts the community and ask if they share a similar vision. Chances are that they do have a similar vision, but simply don’t know about your organization and the opportunities that exist. You may be surprised by what happens when you start asking them to join. 

Robby Marschand was quick to point out that just as much care, support, and opportunity should be provided to students looking to enter the workforce upon graduation as is provided for college-bound students – like internships to help them gain career experience or job shadowing for those who are still trying to decide a career path.  

Kickstarting Careers in Our Community 

Would you like to support local students? The Fayette Community Foundation is eager to explore the possibilities with you. Give us a call at (765) 827-9966 or email info@givetofcf.com to see how you can make a difference by investing in our community. 

Students interested in scholarship opportunities should visit our website at givetofcf.com/scholarships. Be sure to share this information with the young people in your life and take a moment to consider Robby Marschand’s advice on making Fayette County a welcoming place to call home for our youth 

-Alexandra Pflug, Executive Director and CEO, Fayette Community Foundation 
(First Appeared in the Connersville News-Examiner)