Almost immediately after the family of Bob and Kathy Sweeney posed a "family challenge" to the Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation -- seeking 99 families to join them in donating $10,000 to foundation over the next 10 years -- the family of Corby and Jean Fichter responded, "We'll match it!"
You can read about the Sweeneys, of Atlantic, and their challenge in another story on this website.
So, let's meet the Fichters, of Shenandoah.
Corby Fichter, president of the education foundation since its beginning in 2016, is a graduate of Fremont Mills High School and Iowa State University. He is regional vice-president for Southwest Iowa of Farn Credit Services of America and also is a farmer. Jean Fichter is a native of Le Mars and a graduate of Iowa State, where she met Corby. She is a member of the Board of Education of the Shenandoah Community Schools, currently serving as president, and helps on the family farm. Previously she was president of the P.E.O. Chapter in Shenandoah. Earlier in their marriage, when Corby was based in Mason City, Jean worked 10 years there for the Principal Financial Group, servicing pension plans.
Jean and Corby Fichter with their family.
The Fichters have 27-year-old twin sons Adam and Austin, both Iowa State graduates and both now working as financial officers for Farm Credit Services of America. Adam, who lives in Clear Lake, works from Mason City, while Austin, who lives in Gretna, Neb., works from the state capital city of Lincoln. Both are married. Fichters' daughter Heidi, 23, is scheduled to graduate in December, 2020, from Iowa State with a double degree in agriculture education and global resource systems.
Corby and Jean Fichter didn't decide so quickly to make the $10,000 commitment to the education foundation just because of their leadership positions in the foundation and on the school board.
"For us, this is about community and education," said Corby. "Our kids are the 5th generation of Fichters. Some of us lived here, farmed here, went to school here, became a part of Shenandoah. Some of us went to Fremont Mills to school, some lived on the home farm near Randolph, but Shenandoah has always been home. My parents taught me a long time ago to always give back to the community in which you live, work, and play.
"This is an opportunity to do just that," he continued. "Jean and I always knew that education was extremely important to not only our family but to all families, and we've supported education at any level. Her dad was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He also went to college. He was on the local school board. My dad was on the local school board a number of years ago. Our kids are 4th generation Iowa State graduates.
"Education has always been extremely important to our entire family and this is an opportunity to help make a difference for students and teachers for a long time for our community."
You can write the author of this story, Chuck Offenburger, a member of the board of the Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation, by email at chuck@Offenburger.com.