Financial Literacy 'Personal Finance Challenge' 2016
‘Grab life,’ pack in experiences, come back to Nebraska
Photos by Jana Langemach

The top three high school teams in the 2016 Personal Finance Challenge were recognized May 4 in the Nebraska Capitol by Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg.

Students from Alliance High School, which placed first in the state, and students from Omaha Northwest Magnet High School, which placed third, were recognized in an afternoon event. With them were their teachers, Luke Shroyer from Alliance and Susan Dimmitt from Omaha Northwest.

In the morning, students from Lincoln Southeast High School, which placed second in the competition, and their teacher, Lindsay Tillinghast, visited Treasurer Stenberg in his office.

The competition, sponsored by the Nebraska Council on Economic Education, took place April 16 at three sites in the state – Omaha, Lincoln, and Curtis. Alliance High School, which took home top honors, went on to compete in the national competition May 6 at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City.

The members of the first-place team from Alliance each received a $2,000 Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) scholarships. They are Anthony Hare, Lane Applegarth and Bailey O’Conner. A fourth student, Jorgen Johnson, did not compete in the state competition, but joined the team for the national competition.

Members of the second-place team, who each received a $1,000 NEST scholarship, from Lincoln Southeast High School are Madison Kraus, Taylor Hendricks, and Sonny Wimmer.

Members of the third-place team each received a $500 NEST scholarship. They are Zoe Thorson, Jeromie Wade, Adam Strasser, and Brett Hillabrand.

“Best of luck at the national competition,” Treasurer Stenberg told the Alliance students.

“You are off to Kansas City to take it,” said Michael Walden-Newman, the state’s chief financial officer with the Nebraska Investment Council, who met with the students in the afternoon. Walden-Newman told the students he was an English major who put himself through college and wouldn’t have imagined himself one day overseeing others’ investments.

“Life just happens to you,” he said, urging the students to grab every experience and every stage of life. “Go out there and grab life, have a lot of experiences – it will help if you finish college – and remember that Nebraska is always a good place to come back to,” he said. “You know you are talented. Fine a spot where you can put those talents to use.” Nebraska offers many opportunities, he said.

“We will represent Nebraska well,” Shroyer said about his Alliance students. The students said they prepared for the national competition by studying practice tests, previous course material, Khan Academy resources, and resources offered by a teacher at Western Nebraska Community College. Shroyer said he had the good fortune to work with excellent students and to follow in the footsteps of Ms. Dimmitt, who previously taught at Alliance where she laid the groundwork for success.

Treasurer Stenberg presented each student with a certificate and a letter of congratulations for Gov. Pete Ricketts. The teachers each received an iPad Air 2 tablet and an Admiralship in the Nebraska Navy from Gov. Ricketts’ office. The Alliance and Omaha Northwest students also received a guided tour of the Capitol by Roxanne Smith and met with Michael Walden-Newman, chief investment officer with the Nebraska Investment Council.

About NEST

NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the Bloomwell 529 Education Savings Plan, and the State Farm 529 Savings Plan. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. Union Bank & Trust Company serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 285,000 accounts, including over 94,000 in Nebraska. Visit and for more information.

Investments Are Not FDIC Insured* · No Bank, State or Federal Guarantee · May Lose Value
*Except the Bank Savings Static Investment Option Underlying Investment
  • Jana Langemach
  • Director of Communications
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