Dedicated to the memory of longtime NPW member Marianne Beel, this $500 scholarship is open to high school seniors who have a heart for photography, writing, podcasting, videography or who keep a strong social media/online presence for their school publication, volunteer organization or employer. Students should be planning to pursue an education in communications or a related field and enjoy showcasing Nebraska through their work.

The scholarship is open to applicants statewide. Students from the Sandhills are given special preference because that was Marianne Beel’s home.

Marianne, who was from Valentine, loved the Sandhills and shared that love through her writing and photography. Her column “Sand in My Shoes” was much beloved by readers of the North Platte Telegraph. Over the years, her writing and photography appeared there and in numerous other publications. She was inducted posthumously into the Nebraska Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2009 for her coverage of and work with the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association.

To be considered for the Marianne Beel Scholarship, an applicant must:

  • Be a 2021 graduating senior from any Nebraska high school.
  • Be a writer, photographer, podcaster, videographer or social media contributor whose work reflects Nebraska, with preference given to Sandhills subject matter.
  • Plan to seek a post-secondary degree or certificate (not necessarily four-year) preferably in a communications-related field.
  • Submit three samples of work in any combination of writing, photography, audio, video or social media posts/blogs. Work must be done for a high school publication, volunteer organization or employer.
  • Complete the application form available below.
  • Write a 250-word essay on what living in Nebraska means to them.
  • Submit a copy of their high school transcript with current GPA.
  • Submit one letter of reference and a resume.

To apply, download the 2021 Beel Scholarship Application.

Applications must be submitted by Feb. 10, 2021. Late applications will not be accepted.

2020 Recipient

Dillion Muirhead grew up in Valentine, Nebraska, true to the Marianne Beel Memorial Scholarship’s soft spot for the Sandhills. Dillion is a 2020 graduate of Valentine Community Schools. But instead of ranching and cornfields, Dillion finds his love of the Sandhills — and of media — at the local golf club. Starting in April 2019, Dillion began working at Frederick Peak Golf Club, which he referred to extensively as The Prairie Club in his essay. 

While Dillion spent much of the ensuing summer maintaining the grounds, mowing, trimming and watering, he also took over the Frederick Peak Golf Club’s media promotions.

Through this, Dillion worked to build the golf club a presence on Instagram and Facebook. He enhanced the golf club’s brand with photography and drone video footage. Through short videos and promotional videos, he was able to network and built the golf club more of a following. 

In his essay, Dillion wrote, “The Prairie Club, nestled in the heart of the Sandhills, is one of the top-rated golf courses in the country. It’s located 17 miles from the nearest town of Valentine, but that’s the beauty of the Prairie Club. It’s remote and pristine, a destination where you put down your bags, grab your clubs and let the hours fly by.”

Dillion was no stranger to building a brand. He also built a website for a local grocery store, Mike’s Market, as well as created promotional videos for Valentine Tourism. Entering college, Dillion already has quite the resume, including work in the entire Adobe and Google Suites. 

Winning school honors in everything from academics to agriculture to sports (including golf), Dillion is now in his first year at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In his essay, Dillion wrote, “When you think of Nebraska you may think of endless cornfields and ranch land. You may think of the Cornhuskers and Memorial Stadium, or the state that sits in the middle of the country. But what living in rural Nebraska means to me is opportunity.”

Previous Recipients

2018: Amanda Payne of Dunning, a 2018 graduate of Sandhills High School, plans to take online classes through Central Community College before earning a bachelor’s degree in English. During her high school junior year, Amanda was a student reporter for the Custer County Chief, where she networked and learned journalism skills and lessons.

2017: Abigail Moody, a 2017 graduate of Moody Christian Academy, attends Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, where she plans to  major in theater and minor in business. The Burwell native loves theater. She is extensively involved with photography and as a technical assistant for Cedar Creek Bible Church in Burwell. While judging her scholarship essay about the meaning of living in rural Nebraska, a longtime professional writer noted Moody’s writing mirrors that of Marianne Beel, longtime Sandhills columnist for whom the scholarship is named.

2016:  Morgan Wallace, a 2016 graduate of Gering High School.  She was feature editor of her high school newspaper during her junior year and editor-in-chief for her senior year. She also got an early start on her professional career, working as a part-time reporter and photographer for the Gering Courier for two years. Her school activities included membership in the Quill and Scroll Honor Society, DECA and the Gering Girls Activities Association. She is a two-year varsity soccer letter-award winner.

2015: Morgan Peterson, a graduate of Arthur County High School. She worked on her school’s yearbook, taking sports, candid and class photos, and then editing them for publication. Peterson also was active in 4-H, Future Farmers of America and the Arthur Rodeo Club and did a variety of volunteer work in the community. In addition to working on her family’s ranch, she also has worked on area ranches and trained horses for others for the past four years. Peterson planned to attend Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne.

2014: Jessica Thiele of Atkinson graduated from West Holt Public Schools. In addition to compiling a top academic record in high school, Thiele also was active in community volunteer activities, including serving as a board member for the Sturdevant-McKee Museum, as a member of her church worship team and Vacation Bible School teacher, and as a participant in school peer groups’ community-service projects. She also did disaster-response relief work in Mississippi and Haiti. She planned to attend Chadron State College and pursue a degree in communications.

2013: Miranda Wieczorek, a graduate of Grand Island High School, was co-editor of the newspaper, editor-in-chief of the yearbook and did live video streaming of sports. She also volunteered at the Grand Island Independent, won an NSAA State Journalism championship in sports photography and placed in the NPW high school contest. She planned to attend Chadron State College and major in secondary education with a minor in journalism.

2012: Anlan Cheney, a graduate of Cody-Kilgore High School, editor of its school newspaper, and state journalism medalist, planned to attend Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, Okla., and major in communication arts and social sciences.

2011: Allison Booras, a Norfolk High School graduate and Norfolk Daily News photo contest winner, planned to attend Wayne State College and major in advertising.

2010: Courtney Baum, a graduate of Mullen High School, was selected as the first recipient of the Marianne Beel Memorial Scholarship. In high school she provided photos to the local newspaper, worked on the school yearbook, and took senior pictures for some of the students. She chose to attend a photography school in Nashville, Tenn., to pursue her passion.