May 2019 Newsletter

Categories: News


Overcoming Challenges

Degree leads to new career


Jamie Vanis

Jamie Vanis is a Case Manager in Iowa City, Iowa.

Kory Fettkether had spent years as a farmworker doing a variety of tasks associated with raising crops and livestock on a farm near Sherrill, Iowa. While he loved the work, his pay at $8 an hour wasn’t enough to support the life Kory wished for. Knowing a change was needed, he looked into attending a diesel technology program at Northern Iowa Community College in Peosta. Having worked on and with diesel engines on the farm, Kory found he had a knack and interest with this equipment.

Kory Fettkether

Kory earned his degree and has a new career.

Kory began classes and soon found the struggle of balancing school with work hours. After speaking with a Proteus representative about the services the National Farmworker Jobs Program provided, Kory found the assistance he needed to successfully obtain his college degree. Upon acceptance into NFJP, Kory received help with a stipend and mileage reimbursement. Both went a long way to ease his financial burdens allowing Kory to focus on his school work and gain valuable hands-on experience.

Kory graduated with his associates degree in diesel mechanics and also received help writing his resume and searching for a job. It wasn’t long before he was offered and accepted a position at Rauen Precision Machining in Farley, Iowa. Able to put his newly obtained skills to work, Kory is earning $16.50 an hour, double what he brought home as a farmworker, and loves what he’s doing. Working with his hands and troubleshooting mechanical issues brings joy and a challenge that Kory gets to benefit from daily.

back to top


From Student to Teacher

NFJP client goes to head of the class


Matt Winkel

Matt Winkel is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Casey Iles first heard of Proteus during an orientation session at Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge. Previously, he worked for a local farmer baling hay and tending the fields. While he enjoyed working there, he wasn’t making enough to fully support himself. Because of his interest in technology and computer systems, he made the decision to return to school to pursue an applied science degree in computer networking. Completing a 2-year program requires a significant investment in time, and Casey was worried about not being able work as much. After hearing Proteus Case Manager Rachael speak about the benefits Proteus could provide, Casey applied for the National Farmworker Jobs Program.


Casey was hired as a technology specialist and adjunct instructor at the school he attended.

With assistance from Rachael, Casey completed the required paperwork and enrolled in the program. During his time in school, Casey was most excited about the stipend he received for his time in class. Since he was only able to put in a few hours on the weekends, this money helped to ease his worries about his finances. Proteus was also able to cover some car repairs that needed done.

After graduating with a degree in computer networking, Casey soon discovered there was an opening available at the school he attended and he was hired at Iowa Central as a technology specialist and adjunct instructor.

Through his hard work, Casey was able to prove that this was what he wanted to do for a long term career. He has been working at Iowa Central Community College for one year and earning an excellent wage with benefits. He couldn’t be happier with the assistance he received from Proteus and NFJP.

back to top


 First Generation College Student

 Alejandra is studying criminal justice


Marisol Saldana Leza is a Case Manager in Iowa.

Alejandra Ramos first learned about Proteus during a visit to Beck’s Hybrids in Marshalltown led by Iowa Workforce Development. After receiving an informational packet, she scheduled a home visit with Proteus Case Manager Marisol Saldana-Leza. Once she completed the paperwork and turned in the appropriate documentation, Alejandra found she was eligible to receive assistance from the National Farmworker Jobs program.

Alejandra was born in McAllen, Texas and grew up in Mission. She’s a first generation college student and out of ten brothers and sisters, she is the first in her family to attend college. Alejandra says, “It isn’t something you see now a days, but I wouldn’t want my family any other way.”

Alejandra decided to attend college when she found herself working in the fields on her birthday. She enrolled at Marshalltown Community College and was given a scholarship opportunity at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. Currently, she is working toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Alejandra Ramos Central Methodist University

Alejandra Ramos is studying at Central Methodist University.

She shared that her first day as a college student was not an average first day and said, “I was late to my first class and I was super nervous. During lunch I went to McDonald’s with a friend and I ended up not eating all my chicken nuggets, so I carried the chicken nuggets in my backpack all day long.” Alejandra has built a solid relationship with her case manager and shared that one of the strongest influences she has had in her life are her parents. “They are the most hardworking people I have met and that’s where I got that trait. They did not get to finish high school and because of that they have always told me to go to school to learn and become someone bigger in life,” she said. She credits her parents and family and is where she is because of them.

Alejandra shared that, “Proteus has helped me overcome financial struggles and I can focus on my work. That is one thing I am grateful for. They have really helped me financially and mentally.” With Proteus providing financial assistance and peace of mind, Alejandra’s hard work is evident. She was featured in January’s Central Methodist University merit pages as one of 980 Central Methodist University students named to the Dean’s List for the 2018 fall semester by earning a minimum grade point average of 3.50.

Congratulations Alejandra! We can’t wait to see your future accomplishments! Si Se Puede!

back to top


Nebraska Staff Making a Difference

Partnership conference held


Jody Stutzan

Jody Stutzan is the Regional Director in Nebraska.

The staff in Nebraska attended the Nebraska Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers conference, Planting Seeds of Partnership, in Kearney, Nebraska. The conference was supported by the Department of Education – Migrant Education Program, Nebraska Department of Labor, UNMC – College of Public Health, Legal Aid of Nebraska and Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. In addition to the valuable networking opportunities, Proteus staff led two sessions on services for migrant and seasonal farmworker youth and one presentation about services provided by Proteus.

Following the event, Proteus staff member Kim Parnell met with others to discuss developing a pilot program to provide food resources at the health and safety training sessions during the summer.

Safety training held

Proteus can credit the Nebraska Migrant Education Program for its past success. Each summer Proteus staff conduct heat and pesticide safety training for migrant agricultural workers throughout Nebraska. Many times there are over 75 farmworkers at the sessions. Staff from the Nebraska Migrant Education program are almost always present helping with paperwork, interpreting and distributing long-sleeved shirts.

Hastigs Migrantsback to top


Welcome Iowa Case Manager

Katina Oaklander joins team

K. Oaklander

Katina Oaklander is a case manager in Iowa.


Welcome Katina Oaklander to the Proteus team! Katrina has a background of compassion as she was previously employed at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. Her experience has transitioned well as she serves the farmworkers in east central Iowa. Katrina wasted little time in becoming familiar with the National Farmworker Jobs Program and has shown a great aptitude for meeting all the case management needs of Proteus clientele. We’re looking forward to the achievements Katrina will have and the impact she’ll generate in the area she serves.

back to top


Welcome Indiana Case Manager

Miriam C. Sonderborg joins team


Miriam C. Sonderborg is a case manager in Indiana.


Miriam C. Sonderborg career started in Guatemala, Central America, working for UNICEF and recruiting children from the streets, offering them housing, food and education and the opportunity of a better way of life. She has many years of experience in a variety of settings and with diverse clients and providing family reunification services, crisis intervention and victim referral services. It’s her mission to provide an environment of compassion and support to help individuals and families overcome obstacles to move forward and thrive.

back to top


Welcome Indiana Program Specialist

Gloribel Flores joins team


Gloribel Flores is a program specialist in Indiana.


Born in Los Angeles, California, Gloribel graduated from Logansport High School, Indiana, and joined the United States Marine Corps. When her enlistment ended, she moved back to Logansport, Indiana and is currently attending Indiana University Kokomo. Gloribel enjoys exercising, spending time with friends and family, and relaxing on her days off. Her career goal is to become a school counselor.


back to top


Welcome Indiana Program Specialist

Mayra Garcia-O’Conner joins team


Mayra Garcia-O’Conner is a program specialist in Indiana.


Mayra joins the Indiana team as program specialist where she will provide heat stress training and pesticide protection for farmworkers and their families. Previously, she worked at the Logan Center, providing assistance to families and individuals with disabilities. Mayra has a passion to help the migrant and seasonal farmworkers and feels this is an opportunity to help her community.

back to top