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One day, out of thin air--or wherever such inspiration comes from--the idea of awarding financial prizes to high school students who wrote about something they learned as a result of high school football simply came to Bruce Ferguson.  It wasn't hard to convince the other three founders (who happen to be his daughters) to enter into something that would be fun and rewarding for them to undertake together as a family, and Fields of Learning was born.

So often, people reflect back to their youth and say things like, "Those were the best years of my life, but I didn't appreciate it then."  Perhaps potential reward for writing a story about a learning experience for a chance to win scholarship money will inspire some young people to pause and ask themselves, "What have I learned?" or "What has been so important to me that if I write about it, I might win a competition?"  This type of reflection and introspection is helpful throughout life.  

In this electronic age of smart phones and texting, the emphasis for effective communication is on speed and interactivity.  Though this is a natural evolution of our society--and is fun and stimulating for young people--it de-emphasizes letter writing and the need, in general, to be able to get in touch with feelings and express them in writing.  In the years to come, students composing essays for Fields of Learning might play at least a small role in preserving the ancient, but important, skill of sharing something through carefully chosen words.  

Though only a small percentage of students who submit essays will win scholarships, the satisfaction of helping fund one's continuing education through winning a competition could be a significant confidence-builder for students.  For that reason, the approach on awarding scholarships is to have a greater number of smaller dollar awards (as opposed to a smaller number of larger awards) maximizing the number of students who win, even if the amount awarded covers only a small fraction of the cost of continuing education.   



What we are all about...

It is the goal of Fields of Learning to make this program available to every student in Ohio who 

attends a school that fields a football team.  Announcements will emphasize that this

 is in no way limited to the various groups of direct participants in high school football.  

And furthermore, it will be emphasized that the scholarship money can be used for any 

reasonable type of continuing education, and not limited to attending college.  

With the intent of getting more personally in touch with the communites and school districts,

the founders have made a committment to visit each one of the approximately 

725 football-playing high schools in Ohio, and to photograph every school and football field. 

Though obviously a daunting and time-consuming endeavor, the outings to find and photograph 

schools are proving to be memorable and enjoyable family outings.  In April, 2014 we completed the school visits and celebrated as we snapped the photograph of

Manchester High School along the Ohio River in Southern Ohio.  Since then, 9 additional schools have taken up football, all of which have been visited and photographed as of January, 2017.

After our initial 14 years of awarding scholarships,it is impossible to predict whether it will remain a small family 

endeavor, or take root and become something much larger.  Among former #1 New York Times 

bestsellers are books comprised of collections of personal stories, like Chicken Soup for the Soul 

by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen and The Right Words at the Right Time by Marlo 

Thomas and Friends.  An idea for the future is to publish a book consisting of a collection of 

Fields of Learning essays.  The royalties from book sales would then help fund Fields of Learning 

for future generations.

Together, we have come to understand the importance of pausing to reflect on what happens in life and to appreciate the lessons we have learned.  Great benefit comes from committing our thoughts and feelings to writing.