Scholarships valued at nearly $25,000 were handed out Monday night by Denton County’s Blue Ribbon Club.
Student recipients and sponsors gathered at the bingo hall at the North Texas Fairgrounds for dinner and a celebration of the young men and women who earned scholarships.
“We think they need some recognition for doing something constructive instead of destructive,” said Weldon Burgoon, president of the Blue Ribbon Club.
The club, a support organization for the Denton County Youth Fair and Rodeo, gives out scholarships of $500 or $1,000 each year.
This year, 16 $1,000 scholarships and 15 $500 scholarships were awarded.
“We used to do this a little different 25 years ago with three scholarships,” Burgoon recalled. “It just grew, and it got so big we couldn’t continue to award them during the auction sale because we had so many people present and our space was kind of limited.”
He said the idea of the dinner was not just to give recipients a quick handshake and wish them “good luck,” but to actually see the donors and the recipients together.
“You’d be amazed at some of the things these youngsters do,” he said.
Not all the recipients were in attendance. Some of them, particularly those who received continuing education scholarships, were putting those funds to good use while away at school.
Lauren Kilpatrick, a 17-year-old home-schooled student, said she was appreciative of the opportunity the club gives younger students to help them get a higher education and because they are more agriculture-based.
“And [agriculture] is something that we’ll need, to keep continuing on to feed the world,” she said.
Kilpatrick said she plans to major in horticulture at Texas A&M University.
“It’s awesome they have been able to continue funding students for this long,” she said. “I know it’s hard each year to continue getting the funds.”
The club raises funds through various means, including ticket sales for the rodeo, to continue supporting the youth.
Hayes Adams, an 18-year-old senior, said he is thanking the club and its members as best he can.
“I think it’s a great deal, and I hope they keep doing it,” he said.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.