Multiple Area Businesses Host Nex-Generation Student Interns
What began as a small, 6-intern program in 2011 has flourished – almost overnight – into a tremendous regional effort to retain youth. The Nex-Generation Student Internship Program has grown by leaps and bounds and now encompasses over 20 businesses stretching nearly 250 highway miles across northwest and north central Kansas. Sixteen students from Cheyenne to Mitchell counties will experience hands-on learning as they embark on what their predecessors have deemed “an experience of a lifetime.”

Local non-profit, Nex-Generation Round Up for Youth, Inc., announces its 2016 participating businesses and interns:

Ashli Dinkel is interning with Cheyenne County Development Corporation, under the direction of Helen Dobbs. Ashli is the daughter of Dean and Vicki Dinkel of Sharon Springs and a senior at Fort Hays State University: “I’m excited for the opportunity to work with Helen and develop experience in working in community development in rural Kansas.” Ashli plans to remain in rural Kansas to focus on rural growth and non-profit work.
Wilson Ellis, an upcoming senior at Norton Community High School, is interning with the City of Norton, under the direction of Jeff Wolf, Code Enforcement Officer, where he is experiencing the many departments and functions that make up city management. “I hope to major in business when I go to college, so I’m excited about all the new things I’ll be able to learn through this internship.” Wilson is the son of Scott and Darla Ellis of Norton.
Zachary Martin is a 2015 graduate of Ellsworth Jr./Sr. High School and is attending NCK Tech in Beloit in the telecommunications program. He is interning with Cunningham Telephone & Cable under the direction of Brent Cunningham, Vice President/General Manager; and Terry Cunningham, Vice President/OSP Manager. The son of Marc and Stacia Martin of Beloit, Zach looks forward to what the internship will bring: “It will allow me to get my foot in the door and start doing what I want to do as a career.”
Morgan Beougher is a sophomore biology major at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina and a 2015 graduate of Stockton High School. She is interning with the Graham County Hospital in the physical therapy department under the direction of Physical Therapist Denise Ring. Along with that department, she will be shadowing multiple facets of the hospital throughout the summer. “I am very excited to learn about the opportunities in health care. I’m most interested in physical therapy, and so I hope to gain knowledge and experience in that career area.” Morgan is the daughter of Greg and Marcy Beougher of Stockton.
Michaela Smith will be a junior at Hill City Junior/Senior High School this fall. She is interning with the Graham County Public Library for Director Marcy Gansel, where she is working with youth programs and other activities for patrons. “I am enjoying working with and learning alongside the kids,” she said. Michaela is the daughter of John and Sandra Smith of Hill City. She hopes to one day become a horse chiropractor.
Landon Wingerson, the son of Steve and Annette Wingerson of Smith Center, is a 2015 graduate of Smith Center Jr./Sr. High School. He is interning with K-State Research & Extension under the direction of Extension Associate Nadine Sigle. Landon is working on community vitality projects for a variety of rural communities. These programs are a joint effort by K-State and the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. Landon attends Kansas State University where he is pursuing a degree in entrepreneurship and marketing: “This internship is a great opportunity and I look forward to helping make a difference for the communities.”
Jointly, the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation and a local community garden, “The Radish Patch,” are hosting Fernando Rojas as their intern this summer. He will be assisting with graphic design projects for the economic development office and helping manage the community garden. “I am excited to learn more about how to help the community.” Fernando is a sophomore at Barton Community College and the son of José and Veronica Rojas of Garden City. He is working under the direction of Economic Development Director Kelly Larson and Gwen Knight with “The Radish Patch.”
Chad Simon of Hays is interning with Midwest Energy, Inc., under the direction of Mike Morley, Corporate Communications Director. Chad is retired from serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he and his family reside in Hays. “I look forward to learning and experiencing more in public relations and communications within a corporate setting, and I hope to continue working in a public relations or non-profit setting,” he said.
Raven Dick is interning with Nex-Tech, working specifically on social media projects, such as the Nex-Tech Classifieds. Raven is the daughter of Wilfred and Lisa Dick of Fort Collins, Colorado, and she is a senior communications/journalism major at Fort Hays State University. “I hope to someday live in a rural area and write for a paper or magazine, so I am so excited about everything I am going to learn through this internship.” Raven works under the direction of Justin McClung, Nex-Tech’s Director of Development, Innovation, and Administration.
Brooke Hammond of Long Island is interning with NWKLS under the direction of Meagan Zampieri, Assistant Director, working on a variety of projects and events in Norton and other communities served by NWKLS. “I am excited to be able to interact with the community and experience all of the opportunities this internship program brings. I especially like working with children and look forward to youth programs,” Brooke writes. The daughter of Brock and Jana Hammond of Long Island, Brooke is majoring in speech pathology at the University of Nebraska Kearney.
Raenee Patterson, a 2016 graduate of Norton Community High School, is interning with the Norton County Community Foundation for Executive Director Tara Vance. Raenee said she is excited about all this internship is providing: “It is giving me the opportunity to learn about all the different things going on in our community and how our Foundation helps with that,” Raenee said. Following college, Raenee is hopeful to return: “I would love to become employed right here in the county in the future.” Raenee is the daughter of Eric and Jennie Patterson of Norton.
Kollette Keeten is interning in a shared capacity among three Phillips county entities and under the direction of three mentors: Nick Poels, Executive Director, Phillips County Economic Development; Angie Wells, Executive Director, Phillipsburg Chamber of Commerce; and Morris Engle, Executive Director, Phillips County Community Foundation. Kollette is using her graphic design skills to produce new flyers, brochures, and other marketing materials: “I’m excited for this opportunity to grow as an individual and business professional. I hope to one day open or start my own graphics business.” A marketing and graphic design major at Fort Hays State University, Kollette is the daughter of Greg and Tonya Keeten of Phillipsburg.
Interning with Shiloh Vineyard is Sam Kaup, an upcoming senior at Plainville High School. Sam works directly with owners Kirk and Treva Johnston on a variety of projects, from working outdoors with the grape vines to indoors helping customers who visit from all over the world to helping with weddings and other events on site. “I am excited to be part of the Nex-Generation Internship Program because I love working outdoors and experiencing new things,” he said. Sam is the son of Jeff and Janine Kaup of Plainville.
Taylor Haven is a junior at Fort Hays State University and a 2014 graduate of Smith Center Jr./Sr. High School. She has joined the Smith County Memorial Hospital under the direction of Becky Meyer, Development Director, as a second-year intern in the Nex-Gen program. Taylor says her experiences during last year’s internship helped to shape her plans and career goals: “I had been looking at radiology and medical diagnostics, but having worked here last year, I am focusing now on human resources management in a hospital environment and hope to obtain a career with Smith County Memorial Hospital in the future. This summer, I am excited to grow the connections I made last year and further develop my skills.” Taylor is the daughter of Todd and Michelle Haven of Smith Center.
Aaron Phillips is interning with Unified School District 298 in Lincoln under the direction of Brenda White, District Technology Coordinator. Aaron is working on a variety of projects for the school, including a new inventory system and web program, as well as a beautification project for the athletic complex which suffered damage from a storm. Aaron said he was looking at an opportunity to put his computer skills to work this summer. “This internship will provide me with many ways to use my computer skills and teach me more about small-town life,” he said. Among Aaron’s long-term goals are becoming a fire fighter and EMT. Aaron is a junior at Independence Community College and a 2014 graduate of Chanute High School.
Thatcher Brown is interning with Waddell & Reed, Inc., in Hill City, under the direction of Financial Advisor Alex Leslie. In order to work with sensitive client data, Thatcher had to pass FBI and other background checks. Now, as an intern, he is learning industry software, working with financial analyses, assisting with client meeting preparations, and working on a variety of other projects. A senior finance major at Fort Hays State University, Thatcher looks forward to tying these hands-on experiences on the job back to the classroom and then on to a future career: “I would like to become a financial advisor and entrepreneur in northwest Kansas. This internship is a great opportunity for me to gain the necessary experience in the field.” Thatcher is the son of Troy and Sherri Brown of Hays.
For further information about the Nex-Generation Student Internship Program, contact Jacque Beckman, Executive Director, at 877-567-7872.