Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship awarded to students from Hermann, Odessa

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Allison Boedges of Hermann and Emma Jones of Odessa have been selected as this year’s recipients of the Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship. The scholarship is a partnership of the Missouri Press Association, Missouri Press Foundation, University of Missouri School of Journalism and Reynolds Journalism Institute.

The Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship awards recipients $5,000 each semester, up to eight semesters while enrolled in the Missouri School of Journalism. Qualification is determined through the federal FAFSA program. Students can also receive an additional $5,000 summer fellowship funded by RJI and can apply for a further $1,200 from RJI’s Potter Digital Ambassador program.

Boedges and Jones plan to study journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism next year, with both agreeing to work at rural Missouri newspapers following graduation as part of the scholarship process.

Emma Jones

An experienced reporter and editor for Odessa High School’s The Growler, Jones also gives back to her community, volunteering for efforts such as Special Olympics and HopeKids, which coordinates events, activities and support for families of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

In her application essay, Jones wrote that when growing up she used writing as an outlet for expressing her feelings and communicating with her parents. Her childhood also speaks volumes to the benefits of the Newspaper in Education program helping young people know and understand what is going on in the world around them.

“Growing up in rural Missouri has allowed me to see the importance of local journalism in a way that not many can,” Jones wrote. “In my town, every Thursday, each teacher was given a copy of the weekly newspaper. Luckily, my father was a teacher and was sure to provide me with my own issue, allowing me to read the paper every week before I went to class.”

Reading the local newspaper led Jones to consume other media and a realization about the world, including many of her fellow classmates. “I realized how little everyone around me knew about what was going on locally,” she wrote.

With a return to a rural community after college, Jones hopes to use her work as a journalist to inspire progress and help facilitate positive change.

“Rural Missouri is more than just a place to return to after college for me, it’s my home,” Jones wrote. “By dedicating my work to it after finishing school, I not only will get to do something I love, but I will also be capable of fulfilling my civil duty by helping improve a place I love.

Crediting her history growing up reading the Odessan, Jones hopes she can do the same one day. “I aspire to … spark the love for journalism in another young girl, just like my paper did for me.”

Allison Boedges

Boedges’ journalism experience includes three years in editor roles with the Hermann High School Yearbook Club but almost four years writing regularly for the Hermann Advertiser Courier. She got her start at age 14 with a brief feature on COVID-19 from a kid’s point of view, published the summer before her freshman year of high school.

“It was at that point that a whole new world opened up to me,” Boedges wrote in her scholarship application. “This writing allowed me to share things that were important to me or, even more exciting, things that were important to the people and the community that I love.”

Boedges wrote about growing up on a farm north of Hermann and how in a small, rural community you connect with the people around you in a different way. Those people she met through her work with the newspaper and other community volunteer efforts, such as for the Montgomery County Fair, have inspired her to want to become a rural community journalist.

After a follow-up article, also written at age 14, about the pandemic’s effect on area farmers, Boedges began writing a bi-monthly column, titled “Bearcats by Boedges.” It allowed her to bring news from Hermann High staff and students to the wider community. The column was even sponsored by East Central College.

Boedges began her junior year as a stringer for the Hermann newspaper, improving her writing quality and substance. By the summer of 2023, leading into her senior year, she was writing pieces for the Advertiser Courier and The Montgomery Standard.

“Now, as I near the end of my senior year of high school … and look towards my future as a Journalist, there are few things I am sure of,” Boedges wrote. “As I prepare to leave behind this town that represents everything and everyone I have ever known, it is a bittersweet time for me. Little is known, but I can tell you that I am certain of my desire to grow old in a town just like the one I grew up in.

“One with the same values, the same sense of community, and the same opportunity for true connections,” Boedges added. “That is my dream.”

The Missouri Press Foundation will work directly with Missouri newspaper publishers to find the best match for scholarship recipients. The intent is for the student to fulfill the two-year post-graduation requirement at the newspaper where they intern. Newspapers will be expected to help the student find housing for the summer internship program and assist with finding housing for the post-graduation period.

Questions about the Rural Missouri Newspaper Scholarship can be directed to Missouri Press Foundation Director Michael Harper at (573) 449-4167, ext. 303, or at mharper@mopress.com. Applications for the scholarship are accepted at the beginning of each year, and funds are applied in the fall semester of the following school year.

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Photo of Emma Jones
Photo of Allison Boedges

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