The 15th Annual Ortner Scholarship Foundation Golf Tournament was held July 27 at Willow Vale Golf Course in Mapleton. Proceeds from the tournament go to the Ortner Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit organization that annually awards post-secondary educational scholarships to graduating students.

The three couple scramble tournament had 180 golfers competing on 18 holes of golf with many fun variations intermingled among the nine-hole course.

Past Charter Oak-Ute graduates have come back to support the tournament after high school.

Brandon Vogt graduated from Charter Oak-Ute in 2010. As a high school student, Vogt volunteered at the Ortner Tournament for four years and helped with a number of duties, from working at a hole collecting money (from the different contests) to putting rental carts back on the trailer to cleaning up after the event. He said they had a good laugh as they watched the golfers – some were really good, some are mediocre, and some had never golfed before.

Vogt has golfed in the Ortner Tournament for the past three to four years with family and friends.

“It’s fun to look back and see where you were,” Vogt said as he sees the current high school students helping with the tournament.

Vogt said the dollar amount the tournament raises has grown over the years, which helps the value of the scholarships go up, but with that, the cost of tuition has gone up, too. Ortner Scholarships help lighten the financial cost for students.

“Scholarships are key to getting kids started,” Vogt said. He attended Iowa State University and majored in agronomy and animal sciences. He now lives near Ute and works for Monona County and farms.

Aubry (Kunze) Lyon was also a member of the COU Class of 2010. In high school she also helped with the Ortner Golf Tournament and other Ortner activities.

Her favorite memory from the tournament was coming back to speak at the 10th anniversary of the Ortner Golf Tournament in 2015. She got to share with those in attendance about how the Ortner Scholarship impacted her.

Lyon went to the University of Iowa and majored in communication studies.

“Having the Ortner Scholarship funds available for me was a huge help,” Kunze said. “It was a huge help my freshman year as I really didn’t have many scholarship opportunities available to me from the college.”

While she has golfed in the tournament two or three times, she said, “I’m pretty for sure my parents have never missed a tournament.”

Lyon now works at the University of Iowa as a community relations specialist in the marketing/communication department.

This year, 39 MVAOCOU students helped at the Ortner Golf Tournament with activities along the course, as well as helping with the meal.

“The tournament is a great opportunity for student involvement and also a way to raise funds for scholarships awarded, all while having a great time,” said Fred Sweers, who serves as the financial advisor for the foundation.

Students are also encouraged to participate in foundation activities because a main component of how much is awarded is based on service to Ortner Scholarship Foundation events, community service, academic achievement, extra-curricular activities, and the essays outlining their goals for the future.

“As small communities continue to get smaller, the Ortner Scholarship Foundation helps gets kids out and involved in the community,” Vogt said. “They are getting those kids more and more involved all the time, which is good to see.”

Lyons said she knew that if she helped out with the tournament and other activities and put time and effort into the scholarship application, she was going to get some kind of Ortner scholarship.

“It’s good for high school kids to start getting involved in the community,” Lyons said.

The Ortner Scholarship awarded 21 MVAOCOU graduates from the Class of 2019 with a total of $29,750 to help pay for their college education. The scholarships ranged between $500 to $3,500.

Over the course of the past 14 years, over $250,000 has been awarded in scholarships to 261 graduating students. As the tournament has matured, students who were recipients have become participants, adding to a very passionate group of community members, family, and friends who support the tournament and foundation.

The tournament has been successful for the past 15 years because of all the support from the community – all hole-sponsors, clubhouse sponsors, auction items, and donations come from individuals and businesses in the Charter Oak, Ute, Denison, Mapleton, Danbury, Anthon, and many other surrounding communities.

“The communities come together to support the good of the cause,” Lyon said.

Another important part of the tournament is the many volunteers who donate time and energy to make the tournament a success.

“It is a great group of people,” Vogt said. “They are all energetic and passionate about it.”

Lyon added that high school kids today might not know the history behind the Ortner Scholarship Foundation.

“It’s important from them to know it is a community tradition and it means a lot to so many people,” Lyons said.

The Ortner Scholarship Foundation was founded in 1998 by Gary and Leah Ortner at the urging of their good friend Larry Mordhorst to create a remembrance in honor of their children, Jamie Jo and Jason, who tragically passed away in 1997.

During the course of the day, golfers and guests had the opportunity to bid on a wide range of silent auction items donated by individuals and businesses supporting the foundation.

At the conclusion of golf, a meal was provided by Staley’s Catering Service and was followed by a live auction. The auctioneer, Will Epperly of Dunlap Livestock, worked the audience, creating spirited bidding for very popular items, including a Daniel Boone WiFi Green Mountain pellet grill; one week trip in Branson, Mo.; tickets to the Iowa/Penn State football game; tickets to the Kansas City Chiefs; and sides of pork and beef.

All proceeds from, and related to, the tournament raised over $35,000 for the foundation.

Those involved with the Ortner Scholarship Foundation thank everyone who has helped with the cause and are looking forward to having new people join the effort to help young people continue their education as the foundation expands.

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