June 2018 Newsletter

Categories: News


Kick-starting a New Career

Dakota’s interest serves him well


Matt Winkel is a Regional Director in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Matt Winkel is a Regional Director in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Dakota Valentine had always had an interest in mechanics. He also knew that to be successful in this field he would need to pursue a degree. He had some experience working in a local grocery store and had spent several years as a farmworker caring for cattle, baling hay and detasseling corn. This work was always done in the hottest times of the year and he knew it was not the long-term career he was looking for.

After making the decision to enroll at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg, Iowa, Dakota decided to pursue a power sports and power equipment technology degree because he would have the opportunity to work on different types of engines, including motorcycles.

When his instructor learned of his agricultural background he encouraged Dakota to give Proteus a call to see if he would be eligible for assistance through the National Farmworker Jobs Program. He was quickly put in touch with Proteus Case Manager Melissa Rude and found out he qualified.

Dakota put his love of motorcycles and mechanics together for his career.

Dakota put his love of motorcycles and mechanics together for his career.

He was most surprised that he wouldn’t have to pay back the funds he received and that a minimal amount of paperwork was required.

During his time in NFJP, Dakota benefitted from a stipend for his time in class. This not only removed some of the burden of paying bills while attending school full-time, but he was able to gain more experience in class.

“I was able to use some of the money I received and put it into additional projects at school. This allowed me to expand my education and get my hands on a few more repairs I would otherwise not have been able to do,” he said.

During his two years at Iowa Lakes, Dakota worked hard to learn everything he could and earn excellent grades. In May 2018, he graduated magna cum laude with his degree in power sports and power equipment technology. It didn’t take him long to accept a position as a motorcycle technician at Sportsman’s Corner in Algona, Iowa. With assistance from Proteus Dakota is now able to work full-time in a career that he truly enjoys.

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Fredy Continues His Education

ASAP offers an accelerated degree


Dana Cowsert is a Case Manager in Indiana.

Fredy wanted to go to school, but because of the danger in El Salvador, his family decided that it was best for him and his brothers to continue their education in the United States. When Fredy and his two younger brothers came to the United States in July, 2015, the only English he knew was, “Hi. How are you?”

Once in the U.S., Fredy and his brothers lived with their relatives in Logansport, Indiana, while they attended high school. Fredy was a good student and he graduated from high school with A’s and perfect attendance.


Fredy’s love of learning helped him earn his diploma and be accepted into college.

After meeting Fredy, the Ivy Tech Community College ASAP coordinator sent an email to Proteus Case Manager Dana Cowsert to let her know of Fredy’s situation and inquire if he would qualify for the National Farmworkers Job Program. The necessary paperwork was completed and Fredy was accepted. When Fredy was asked, “What are your strengths?” Fredy responded with, “My determination and curiosity.”

Having qualified for NFJP, Fredy will receive financial assistance for tuition, books and a stipend from Proteus while he is enrolled in the ASAP program. ASAP helps high school graduates earn an associates degree in just 11 months and prepares them to transfer to a four-year college to earn their bachelor’s degree. He started ASAP this summer.

When asked what he will do with his education, Fredy said that he wants to work for Google or Microsoft one day.

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Students Benefit from Partnership

Added internship provides work experience


Rachel is a Case Manager in Nebraksa.

Rachel Kreikemeier is a Case Manager in Nebraksa.

Since 2012, the agriculture program at Southeast Community College, Beatrice, Nebraksa, and Proteus’s National Farmworker Jobs Program have worked together to educate Nebraska’s next generation of farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers. Instructors in the agriculture department, with the help of President Bob Morgan, recognized and supported what Proteus was trying to achieve. Dr. Morgan saw that Rachel Kreikemeier, Proteus Case Manager, was eager to increase access to programs and subsidize the cost for students with farm work in their backgrounds. Easing the financial burden helps students focus their efforts on their education.

Agriculture Program Chair Lynn Schlake, and instructors Amanda Fairley and Travis Pralle were pivotal in helping Case Manager Rachel make contact with students who might benefit from NFJP. This partnership is effective because Proteus can provide the financial assistance to those who need it to stay in school. Paying a stipend incentivizes class attendance and participation. Instructors are pleased as these incentives hold students accountable for attending class. Over time, this collaboration has been effective in placing students in jobs throughout Nebraska, Kansas and other locations.

Nebraska - Rachel - SCC Ag Staff

Travis Pralle and Amanda Fairley, Southeast Community College, and Proteus Case Manager achel Kreikemeier work together to support students.

Area farmers and agricultural businesses looking for employees also benefit. More often than not, an SCC agriculture student is the right fit. The internship program helps students who are looking for agriculture employment while in school, and helps students find jobs with area farmers or agricultural businesses after graduation.

Rachel also provides “Rent Smart” training, a financial literacy course, to students who are preparing to graduate. The program consists of topics such as budgeting, money management, tracking expenditures, credit scores, renters insurance, how to build credit, applying for a mortgage, health insurance, and many others. The training gives students information they will need when they get out of school, start living on their own and begin their careers.

The partnership between Southeast Community College and Proteus demonstrates that it takes a group of people caring about the students’ futures and giving them the information, tools and resources to make good decisions. This partnership does exactly that!

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Making a Brighter Future

Linda earns her degree


Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Patrick Taggart is a Regional Director in Iowa.

State Monitor Advocate Marco Adasme knew just where to send Linda Chavez when she inquired about school assistance. Linda had just finished her annual seasonal position as a seed sorter at the Syngenta plant in Lone Tree, Iowa. This job provided only short-term pay, and she knew a change was needed.


With the help of Proteus, Linda received her associates degree and has a new career as an administrative assistant.

Her interest was in accounting and business and management, a career she knew a college degree was required. Upon hearing of Proteus from Mr. Adasme, Linda was quick to reach out and see if she would be accepted. After the intake process was completed and application submitted, Linda was approved for the National Farmworkers Job Program. She was overjoyed with the news and enrolled for the spring semester at Eastern Iowa Community College in Muscatine. While attending classes, Linda received financial assistance on stipend, rent and groceries; all enabling her to keep her focus on her education.

In May of 2017, Linda received her associates degree in business administration and was employed at Menesha Packaging, in Muscatine, as an administrative assistant. She loves the work and appreciates the consistency of her schedule, along with the paycheck.

A life she that had once been only dreamed of while standing the seed sorting lines, Linda now has a new reality.

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Proteus Client Has New Career

Brody completes school to earn degree


Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

Susan Billups Rabick is a Regional Director in Nebraska.

Brody Weinmann is a graduate of Southeast Community College Milford Campus and a client of Proteus Case Manager Kim Parnell. Studying electro-mechanical helped Brody secure a job one year ago as a service technician and sales support staff at HydraBed in Verdon, Nebraska. HydraBed is used to pick up, move and unroll large hay bales to feed cows.

Through the National Farmworkers Job Program, Brody completed his education and has a new career.

In talking about his relationship with Proteus, Brody spoke about the difference the financial assistance made in his life, both while he was in school and now. Proteus was able to provide tuition, stipend and tools at various times during his training.

Being back in his home area is a benefit that Brody appreciates. He has been able to purchase a house and live the life that he had planned for himself. On occasion, he still helps his uncle and cousins with their farm work because he wants to assist his family.


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Welcome Nebraska Case Manager

Kimberly Fonseca joins Nebraksa team


Kimberly Fonseca is a case manager in Nebraska.

Meet Kimberly Fonseca, Proteus’ newest Bilingual Case Manager located in Hastings, Nebraska. She started with Proteus just two days before graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha to receive her masters in social work.

Kimberly was just one year old when her parents loaded her and her four siblings in the car and left their home in Arizona. Heading for better economic opportunities, they stopped in Harvard, Nebraska for a construction job where they still live today. Growing up, education was always stressed in the household. As the youngest, Kimberly not only had parents putting pressure on her to keep going educationally, but her older siblings added to the chorus as well. No doubt they are proud of her accomplishments.

Kimberly comes to Proteus as a former farmworker. In 2012 and 2013 she worked seasonally for Remington Seeds in two capacities – in the fields and also on the sorting floor.

Professionally, Kimberly has experience mentoring youth in the foster care system. She helps to prepare youth as they transition to independent living. Additionally, she worked for the Immigrant Legal Center (formerly Justice for Our Neighbors) in Omaha. There, she learned about immigrant issues and how to connect the dots in the non-profit world.

We are proud to welcome Kimberly to the Proteus team!

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