A new non-profit organization has been created in Wharton. Its mission? To provide funds to Wharton Independent School District students who wish to raise livestock projects through Wharton FFA.
Scholarships for Wharton Ag Students, or SWAGS, is made up of a group of individuals who understand the financial hurdles that come with raising livestock for the fair.
The goal of SWAGS is to provide funds to Wharton students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to purchase and raise an animal project.
“We live in a county rooted in agriculture, and helping students engage in that can open all kinds of opportunities for them and their future.”
With the new WISD Agricultural Project Center now available to students for housing their projects, SWAGS wants to ensure students can utilize this state-of-the-art facility.
“Over a year ago, Eric Muegge contacted me to let me know that he understood that having the facility was just step one. He didn’t want the cost of raising an animal to stop students from participating,” said Wharton ISD Ag Teacher, Bubba Schulz. “He ran with the idea and rallied members of the community together to form SWAGS.”
For this first year, SWAGS hopes to raise as much as $15,000 in order to give 10-12 students scholarships for projects this current year.
With this rather ambitious goal and the deadline to purchase projects for the fair drawing near, the organization would need to raise funds as quickly as possible.
As they await their status of non-profit letter, the group is asking for donations from businesses, members of the community, and looking into funds that may be available through foundations.
Eric Muegge said he has looked around and couldn’t find another non-profit organization to model this one after. It is something very unique and will definitely require some start-up funds.
“We don’t want individuals to be the sole supporter financially of this organization going forward,” Muegge said. “The goal is not to move any support away from the Wharton Fair Fund or the Wharton County Youth Fair. We would ultimately hope to find foundations and grants that can keep the organization going in the future.”
How to apply
In order to be considered for one of the scholarships, students must be in grades 3 through 12 at WISD and be members of the FFA (high school) or Jr FFA (grades 3 through 8). To be eligible for current year scholarships, students must complete an application and return it to Bubba Schulz by Tuesday, Oct 5th.
The application includes a written essay by the student, as well as, a basic budget and a written plan for raising the animal.
Once applications are turned in, members of SWAGS will evaluate the applications and determine the distribution of funds.
Schulz is encouraging all students to apply, saying, “Any student wanting to raise an animal project through the Wharton FFA should apply.”
Schulz continued, “SWAGS wants to help as many students as possible with the funds they will have available.”
Muegge hopes that this organization can help WISD students experience something they may not have had the opportunity for on their own.
“Agriculture feeds the world,” he said. “We live in a county rooted in agriculture, and helping students engage in that can open all kinds of opportunities for them and their future.”
For more information or to request a student application, email Bubba Schulz at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations made payable to SWAGS can be mailed to: SWAGS c/o Eric Muegge 213 N Richmond Rd, Wharton, TX 77488
If you would like more information on becoming a member of SWAGS or making a donation, contact Eric Muegge at (979)-532-5252.
Schulz said he is very thankful for this group, and it will greatly help students, saying, “It’s great to have their support and the funds will go directly towards the cost of purchasing their animal projects.”