Louisville, Ky (PRWEB) March 21, 2012
By all accounts, there was something special about Richie McClerkin.
“I’ve been at Murray State for 24 years and Richie was one of a kind,” said Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of MSU’s Hutson School of Agriculture. “He was a very kindhearted student who just fit in with everyone—he liked everybody and everybody liked him.”
Tragically, McClerkin, who was a financial services officer with Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, passed away unexpectedly in February of 2010 at the age of 30. To honor his memory, Farm Credit recently made a $5,000 gift to an endowed scholarship in his name at Murray State University. This was the second year that Farm Credit had donated to the scholarship, which ironically, McClerkin had already begun himself.
Brannon, who had been McClerkin’s academic advisor, friend and mentor during his time at MSU, fondly recalled memories of his former student. McClerkin came to MSU from Fulton County, Ky. with a passion for life, people and agriculture, and a goal to become the first African-American vocational agriculture teacher in the state.
After overcoming some early hurdles in his college career, McClerkin was able to experience what Brannon described as “the complete college experience; he was a friend to everybody.” During his college years, McClerkin was one of the best-known and most popular students on campus, participating in ag activities, his fraternity, intramural athletics and as a varsity cheerleader.
Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in 2003, McClerkin did become Kentucky’s first African-American ag instructor at Graves County High School. He also began work on his master’s degree at MSU, which he received in 2006. Two years later, Farm Credit recognized McClerkin’s potential and hired him as a financial services officer in 2005, beginning in Glasgow, Ky. In 2007, he moved to Farm Credit’s Campbellsville office where he excelled in building relationships with people and matching products and services to their needs.
In 2009, McClerkin was accepted into the Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program, after being nominated by Brannon. KALP is an elite, 18-month program, designed to hone the leadership skills of some of the sharpest young ag people in the state for future leadership roles in Kentucky agriculture.
“I can’t tell you how excited he was to be a part of KALP, and how excited his fellow class members were to have him be a part,” said Brannon. “I don’t think Richie ever fully realized how much leadership potential he truly had.”
It was about this time that McClerkin and his close friend Brian Hobbs approached Brannon about starting a scholarship, to be able to give back to the university to help ag students like themselves. Both pledged to give $500 annually to get the scholarship going.
“He’d overcome a lot and wanted to help others do the same,” said Brannon “Very rarely do we have anyone that young who wants to give back.”
After McClerkin’s death, the scholarship became known as the Richie McClerkin Memorial Scholarship. With special assistance from MSU associate development director Paul Radke and contributions from family, friends, alumni, former teachers and Farm Credit, it recently achieved full endowment status.
“I really appreciate Farm Credit’s commitment to this scholarship,” said Brannon. “Robert Monk (former FCS regional vice president and McClerkin’s supervisor) was passionate about this project, and Richie would be honored.”
Aaron Miller, Monk’s successor and a fellow KALP classmate of McClerkin, was pleased to continue Farm Credit’s support. “We’re glad for the opportunity to be a part of this—to remember Richie’s impact on others and help carry on his legacy,” he said. “We also appreciate Murray State as a valued partner in educating youth in agriculture.”
Brannon had one final thought on McClerkin. “After Richie left MSU, he’d call me up and we’d always talk Racer basketball,” he recalled. “I’m sure that this season (31-2) he’s been looking down on the Murray State Racers and smiling.”
About Farm Credit Services of Mid-America
Farm Credit Services of Mid-America is an $18 billion financial services cooperative serving more than 95,000 farmers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The association provides loans for all farm and rural living purposes including real estate, operating equipment and housing and related services such as crop insurance, and vehicle, equipment and building leases. For more information about Farm Credit, call 1-800-444-FARM or visit them on the web at http://www.e-farmcredit.com.