As the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.” We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to the community leaders who had the foresight to plant the seeds of the Norse Fund 32 years ago, and an even bigger “thank-you” to the alumni and friends who have donated to memorialize a family member, honor a teacher, or generously give to help graduating seniors from Chaseburg, Coon Valley, and Westby.

The graduating class of 1988 was the first to receive Norse Fund scholarships. That year, four scholarships were awarded with a total value of $2,500 dollars. Including the scholarships that were recently presented to the graduating class of 2019, the Norse Fund has now awarded over 1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors worth over $1,500,000!

The mission of the Norse Fund is to have a positive influence on our students and broader community by financially supporting the educational goals and career aspirations of Westby Area High School graduating seniors. One-thousand scholarships is a remarkable milestone and one we wanted to recognize.

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The communities that make up Westby Area High School are filled with generous and compassionate people who take the time to invest in our youth. Whether you are teaching confirmation or Sunday School, leading 4-H groups, instructing young people in hunter’s safety programs, chaperoning a youth trip, sharing the gift of music, coaching youth sports, or involved in any other mentoring activity, you are investing in our youth, and they are so much better for it. The return on this investment is not measured by a kid’s grade-point average, class rank, the number of medals they win, or how much money they make in their lifetime, but rather by the type of citizen they grow up to be, and the choices that they make.

In its entirety, the adage reads, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” Thank you for your continued support of the Norse Fund, and more importantly, our area youth. We all have our strengths and gifts to share. Whichever way you choose to do it, thank you for investing in our youth!

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Craig Johnson is the Norse Fund Board president.

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