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Announcing our Spring 2022 Beacon® Scholarship for Rural America Winners

Published on
March 17, 2022 at 4:55:25 PM PDT March 17, 2022 at 4:55:25 PM PDTth, March 17, 2022 at 4:55:25 PM PDT

Maria Pytlik of Brainard, Nebraska, and Payton Deichler of Utopia, Texas, are the recipients of the Spring 2022 Beacon® Scholarship for Rural America, a scholarship introduced by Carrot-Top Industries in 2018. Chosen from applications received from across the country, our winners are shining examples of community patriotism that continues to thrive in rural towns today. 


The Beacon® Scholarship supports the American dream that every U.S. citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through diligence, perseverance, and initiative, even if there are limitations due to the cost of education. The Spring 2022 Beacon® Scholarship awarded two students $1,000 each. Graduating high school seniors, current college students, and adult learners with a GPA of 3.0 or higher who planned to enroll in an accredited college program applied. Applicants were required to reside in a rural area, meet low-income criteria and provide an essay about how they have shown patriotism through their community involvement. 


It was important to Carrot-Top Industries that the scholarship winner met all of the requirements mentioned above while also showing clear goals for their future education and community involvement. While applicants showed their patriotism in their community in different ways, they were all determined to make a difference through volunteering, showing appreciation for those who came before them, and ensuring their town has a better future through their service. 


“We are excited to help rural, low-income students meet their educational goals so they can make a positive contribution to America’s future. The Beacon® Scholarship celebrates the American dream of individuality, equal opportunity, hard work, and determination,” said Liz Morris, Carrot-Top Industries CEO and President. 


Meet Maria Pytlik 


Maria Pytlik’s hometown of Brainard, Neb., is a village of fewer than 500 residents. An average size village in that area of rural Nebraska, Brainard has no grocery store and no gas station apart from two pumps supplied by a local cooperative. The closest grocery store is 15 to 20 minutes away in David City, Neb. Pytlik’s high school was also a 20-minute drive away. 


Pytlik is currently a sophomore at Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. She is majoring in music education and trumpet performance. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she plans to continue her education in music in order to achieve her dream of being a professional orchestral trumpet player with her own teaching studio. 


“Music is my passion and I love being able to spread joy and help others through my music,” Pytlik said. “I plan on continuing to reach out and help others by working on searching for and finding new ways to serve the community with my music.” 


Here are excerpts from Ptylik’s essay on showing patriotism through community involvement: 


Giving back to my community and my country has always been something I’ve striven to do in my life and have always deeply cared about. I have many family members that are veterans in the military which has inspired me to find my own way to serve my country and given me a passion for community service. Most of my service work has been geared towards helping and giving back to veterans since they have given so much to me and my country. I’ve done this by playing taps for military funerals and bugle calls for military services, free of charge. I’ve played at over 50 military ceremonies, including retirement ceremonies, tractor pulls, Veteran’s Day services, funerals, Memorial Day services, etc.  


I believe that one of the core values of community service is to serve out of the goodness of your heart and a passion for others while expecting nothing in exchange. I will be forever grateful to veterans for the service they’ve done. It inspires me to serve my community and country in my own way. This is why I will continue, for as long as I am able, to offer my services and talent to veterans and the community in order to thank them for all they’ve given and their own impressive patriotism. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.’ 


Meet Payton Deichler 


Payton Deichler’s hometown of Utopia, Texas, is a small rural community on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Its population is less than 300. “What makes my community unique and interesting is that the name of the town really does represent what the area is like,” Deichler said. “I truly live in paradise, surrounded by majestic hills in every direction and with the crystal-clear waters of the Sabinal River running through the middle of it.” 


In Fall 2022, Deichler will be attending Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas, where he will double major in finance and Spanish. He will participate in the Pre-Law Scholars and Hilltop Scholars Honors programs. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he plans to attend law school.  


Whenever I see an opportunity to make someone's life better and more enjoyable, I will take it,” Deichler said. “I am an initiative-taker, and I will not only work hard to achieve my dreams but will also work hard for others to be able to accomplish theirs.” 


Deichler shows patriotism in his community by his demonstration of loyalty and dedication through such acts as: 


  • Payton’s Snack Shack provides free nutritious snacks to any student who wants or needs them 
  • Utopia Holiday Food Drive 
  • Keep Utopia Beautiful projects 
  • Wounded Warrior Project, Wreaths Across America, and other projects benefiting veterans 
  • Tutoring students 

Here are excerpts from Deichler’s essay on showing patriotism through community involvement: 


To be patriotic and respect the military has been reinforced in my community and by my family since I was young. This is an integral part of who I am today. Patriotism is a duty that should be conducted in respect for the nation and those who have fallen in service of this nation. Each year I participate in organizations and events that help spread my love of my country and the appreciation for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the protection of it. 


Patriotism is the love that one shows for its country and the respect for those who have served and died in the name of the nation. I genuinely believe that it is the duty of every American to understand what has been given, on our behalf, in the name of freedom for our nation, and to know just how much has been sacrificed for the country that we live in. 


Beacon® Scholarship 2022 Winners Expresses Their Appreciations


Both of our Spring 2022 winners expressed appreciation for how much the Beacon® Scholarship will help with their education. “I am the oldest of six children in my family and am completely financially responsible for funding my education,” Pytlik said. “This scholarship will help me afford to continue my education as I pursue a bachelor’s degree in music education and trumpet performance and my dream of one day becoming a professional orchestral musician.” Deichler commented, “This scholarship will help pave the way for my dreams and has not only greatly benefited me but also my community.”


If you know of any deserving students who would qualify for our Beacon® Scholarship for Rural America, have them visit /beacon-scholarship to apply. 


Upcoming application deadlines for the 2022-2023 Beacon® Scholarship for Rural America are: 


  • Fall 2022 Scholarships: June 30, 2022 
  • Spring 2023 Scholarship: November 30, 2022 



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