Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Each year, bankers throughout Wisconsin go above and beyond in their mission to provide for their communities. As we near the end of Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) fiscal year on May 31, we want to be sure to recognize the efforts our member banks accomplish in pursuit of bettering the financial education and responsibility of their communities.

Alongside the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) in its mission to empower financial decisions through education and research, I highly encourage all WBA-member bankers to track and submit their data to help WBA and WBF better understand the financial education-related activities Wisconsin banks and their bankers are involved with each year.

New this year, bankers are able to submit their presentation summaries online at

The two summary forms aim at highlighting the achievements of both individuals as well as the bank for their financial education presentations and activities from June 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022. These activities often include volunteer hours with Junior Achievement, Teach Children to Save presentations, and bank tours — events that many bankers take part in during the month of April as part of Power of Community Week.

The individual summary is intended to capture one event or presentation. Therefore, bankers who have or expect to engage in multiple financial education-related activities from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022 should expect to also submit multiple summaries. Because each summary reflects a single event, all co-presenters should be listed on the same form.

Exceptional individual efforts are recognized by WBF with either a Certificate of Recognition or Certificate of Excellence based on the number of presentations given. These awards, along with the top two banker awards, are presented each year at WBA’s LEAD360 Conference in the fall.

The bank summary form is intended to capture information related to the bank’s entire financial education initiatives. Based on the level of a bank’s total activity, member banks may earn the Excellence in Financial Education Award. This award is also presented each year to the winning banks at WBA’s LEAD360 Conference.

In addition to the Excellence in Financial Education Award, banks are strongly encouraged to apply for the prestigious Financial Education Innovation Award. This award is given to one bank each year that has financial education initiatives or programs that are very creative, reaching a wide audience. The 2021 Financial Education Innovation Award was presented to Bank Five Nine at WBA’s Bank Executives Conference in February for their efforts in creating an innovative approach to financial education. Banks may apply for this award by completing the final portion of the bank-wide presentation summary form application online.

You all do great work in the financial education space in your communities so take the time to get recognized for your outstanding work! Completing the forms this year is even easier now that they are online. You may submit forms at any time but the final deadline is July 31, 2022. I look forward to learning more about your efforts this past year and recognizing the incredible work Wisconsin bankers do each day. Please reach out to Hannah Flanders at or me if you have questions regarding the completion of the two summary forms.

Individual Financial Education Summary FY 21–22

Bank-wide Financial Education Summary FY 21–22

Ken Thompson HeadshotBy Kenneth D. Thompson

April is a busy month for community bankers in Wisconsin. Between Community Banking Month and Financial Literacy Month, the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) and its non-profit arm, the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF), are looking forward to providing bankers throughout the state with opportunities to further strengthen our commitment to every member of our communities.

Teach Children to Save Day is approaching on Thursday, April 28. This campaign highlights the value of teaching kids the importance of financial literacy. To facilitate this campaign in Wisconsin, WBF is once again distributing over 2,500 free books and resources for WBA-member banks to use as they engage with the youngest members of their communities. You can help support this program — along with many other financial education projects — with a tax-deductible donation to WBF. To learn more, visit or contact Hannah Flanders.

I am excited to see how our bankers’ creativity and dedication to financial responsibility shines yet again this year. As always, you are encouraged to share your efforts in improving financial literacy with WBF as part of both Teach Children to Save Day and other educational events you take part in. Visit to submit a presentation form recording your efforts between June 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022.

This year also marks the fifth annual WBA Power of Community Week. Member banks are encouraged to participate, during the week of April 18–23, in one or more community service activities. This effort highlights the Wisconsin banking industry’s long-standing commitment to the communities in our state. If you are looking for ways to get involved this year, would like to share your plans to be included on the interactive map, or to learn more about WBA’s plans, please visit

Whether it be through promoting the importance of financial literacy or volunteering at shelters, food pantries, or non-profit organizations, the month of April presents the perfect opportunity to showcase your bank’s involvement in making Wisconsin the exceptional state that it is. Your efforts, especially in the last two years, have not gone unnoticed and are deeply appreciated by your community. We thank those bankers who have continually gone above and beyond to lend a helping hand to others.

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation has awarded UW-Platteville senior Alexis Boston and UW-River Falls junior Joseph Schlies with the 2021 Agricultural Banking Scholarship. The scholarship is given to two students who plan to go into a career in agriculture finance and who demonstrate in their application a strong understanding of the importance of financial literacy.

Boston is a declared agribusiness major expected to graduate this December. She has worked as an agribusiness professor assistant at UW-Platteville and currently is involved in many on-campus and community organizations including UW-Platteville’s Agribusiness Club, the Collegiate Farm Bureau, and the National Agri-Marketing Association.

Schlies is a declared agricultural business major. He currently holds two positions at the college as a teaching assistant in the Agricultural Economics Department and as a residential assistant. Previously, Schlies was the state president for the Wisconsin Association of FFA State Officers. He is also actively involved on his campus as the vice chair of the Finance Committee and at-large senator of the Student Government Association.

“Joseph and Alexis’s passion for agricultural finance and making an impact on their community is foundational to the qualifications for the Foundation’s Agricultural Banking Scholarship,” said Foundation Chair Rose Oswald Poels. “I am pleased that we are able to honor their achievements with this scholarship and wish them each much success in their future agribusiness careers.”

Joseph Schlies (center) accepts 2021 Agricultural Banking Scholarship from WBF Chair Rose Oswald Poels (second from left). Also pictured are: Dr. Dale Gallenberg, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (far left); Dr. Brenda Boetel, professor and chair of the Agricultural Economics Department (third from the right); Dr. Sierra Howry, associate professor of agricultural economics (second from right); and Tony Betley, vice president – senior agricultural banker at Nicolet Bank.

Alexis Boston (center) accepts 2021 Agricultural Banking Scholarship from WBF Chair Rose Oswald Poels (far left). Also pictured are: Nicholas Felder, vice president – commercial/ag banking at MidWestOne Bank (second from left); Chad Bahr, assistant vice president – agribusiness lending officer at Mound City Bank (second from right); and Donna Hoppenjan, president and CEO of Mound City Bank (far right).

Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) Spring Scholarships
Four $2,000 scholarships are now offered through the WBF each spring. This year’s application period is currently open, and WBF will continue to accept applications from high school seniors and college students through Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Applications for WBF’s Spring Scholarships can be found on the WBF website.

Please contact WBA’s Hannah Flanders at if you have any questions!

Graduate School of Banking (GSB) Human Resource Management School
Applications for The GSB Human Resource Management School Scholarship are due by February 18. Visit the WBA website to apply!

Triangle Background

Wisconsin Bankers Foundation Recognizes Multimedia Financial Education Initiatives

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) presented its prestigious 2021 Financial Education Innovation Award to Bank Five Nine. The award ceremony was held on Thursday, February 10 in Wisconsin Dells during a special luncheon at the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) Bank Executives Conference, the largest banking event in Wisconsin. Mark W. Mohr, president and CEO of Bank Five Nine, accepted the award for the bank’s multimedia financial education initiatives. 

“Bank Five Nine’s financial education efforts are truly unique and equip consumers with tools to improve their financial wellbeing,” said Rose Oswald Poels, WBF Board chair and WBA president and CEO. “The program uses different mediums to provide answers to financial questions many people have but may be too afraid to ask.”  

Bank Five Nine’s omnichannel approach weaves together a weekly, local radio show and podcast with corresponding blog posts and Pinterest pins. Jeff McCarthy, marketing director at Bank Five Nine, and Becky Miller, marketing manager at Bank Five Nine, co-host a Sunday morning radio show called That’s So Money on AM-1130 WISN. The first two segments of the show are dedicated to educating listeners on topics including: Senior Discounts and Savings, Ways to Financially Prepare to Leave Your Job, Women and Finances, Money Matters to Discuss Before Marriage, How to Freeze Your Credit, and Everything You Need to File Your Taxes. The second half of the show features a guest from a local small business or non-profit organization who wishes to tell their story and talk to the show’s listeners about their products or mission.  

After the radio show airs, the segments are produced into separate podcasts, which are housed on the iHeart Media website. Many of the topics discussed on the radio show/podcast are turned into blog posts housed on the Bank Five Nine website. More than 90 blog posts are available and are organized in six categories: All Things Community, Everyday Money, Family Matters, Let’s Get Down to Business, Living Quarters, and Recipes for Success.  

Blog topics and podcasts are featured regularly on social media through Bank Five Nine’s Pinterest account. Pinterest is a highly visual site on which users can browse pieces of information and “pin” them to refer back to later.  

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation is pleased to recognize Bank Five Nine for these initiatives, which provide important financial education and demonstrate the role of banks as trusted partners in consumers’ financial success. 

Oswald Poels and Mohr

Rose Oswald Poels presents the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation 2021 Financial Education Innovation Award to Mark W. Mohr at the WBA Bank Executives Conference on February 10, 2022.

Staff accepting award

Rose Oswald Poels (third from left), WBF Board chair and WBA president and CEO, presents the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation 2021 Financial Education Innovation Award to Mark W. Mohr (fourth from left), Bank Five Nine president and CEO; Jeff McCarthy (fourth from right), marketing director at Bank Five Nine; Becky Miller (third from right), marketing manager at Bank Five Nine; and Bank Five Nine staff members.

Triangle Background

Last spring, Jenna Raisbeck was awarded the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation’s (WBF) Agricultural Banking Scholarship. Originally from Lancaster, Wisconsin, Raisbeck is now a junior at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville and holds a position as a credit analyst and branch marketing liaison at Community First Bank in Platteville.

This inaugural scholarship awarded two individuals attending accredited Wisconsin universities with career interests related to agricultural banking/finance a $1,000 scholarship towards their education. WBF is excited to soon announce the recipients of 2021’s Agricultural Banking Scholarship, which accepted applications in the fall.

Raisbeck was raised understanding the importance of agriculture to her local community, despite not living on a farm herself. As a credit analyst, she works closely with farmers and their credit and has come to realize the need for having good agricultural finance professionals and resources for farmers. Not only does her current position allow her to explore finance and banking, but it also combines her interests in the agricultural industry and helping her community.

Along with receiving the scholarship from WBF, Raisbeck also had the unique opportunity to enter the bank as an intern. “Most companies target graduating seniors for full-time positions, but hiring younger students as interns or tellers can be just as important,” she says. “In my experience, the bank has been able to teach me a lot since I started out so young and with little experience. They know what areas I am interested in and eventually can help me prepare for the right position.”

Following her graduation this January, Raisbeck plans to continue her banking career long term. Through opportunities such as job shadowing, she has decided to pursue lending because it will allow her to work closely with customers, utilize the financial skills established through her time as a credit analyst, and help customers reach their goals.

“Being the recipient of the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation Agricultural Banking Scholarship has benefited me by helping lighten my financial burden that comes with attending college,” says Raisbeck, “This has allowed me to focus more time on my courses which is important to my career. Without successfully completing these finance-focused courses, I would not be able to pursue the career I want long-term, nor would I be able to be in the position that I am now. Getting this recognition for all my hard work from the WBF means a great deal to me and motivates me to continue to push myself to be the best I can be.”

By Hannah Flanders

In 2008, Leah Wilson was awarded the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) Spring Scholarship, which, at that time, was the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) Retail Banking Section “Technical College” Scholarship. While a lot has changed since the mid-2000s not only in Wilson’s career, but also in the banking industry; some things remain absolutely the same — bankers’ commitment to their communities and to the future success of the banking industry

Between her junior and senior year in high school, Wilson began her career in banking as a teller at Mid-Wisconsin Bank in Neillsville. Shortly after, she had decided that a career in banking would align well with her passion for business and math while also allowing her to work within the office setting she had always envisioned.

In the last several years, Wilson has held many positions throughout the bank from teller to personal banker and is now assistant vice president – mortgage lender and assistant branch manager at Citizens State Bank of Loyal in Neillsville. Her expertise in the industry is a result of her dedication to bettering her community and understanding how to navigate her career path.

As she looks back upon the last 14 years in the banking industry, she credits WBA’s scholarship for her ability to further her education at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in Eau Claire. While in the business management program, she was able to complete many courses that continue to be beneficial to her career.

In addition to the CVTC courses she pursued with the scholarship, Wilson has attended several courses offered by WBA, including Residential Mortgage Lending School and Lending Boot Camp, that have allowed continuous growth in her career. “I have learned a lot through the education opportunities provided by the WBA,” says Wilson. “I would encourage people to familiarize themselves with these opportunities and use them.”

Within the community banking environment, in which she has spent much of her career, Wilson has been able to take advantage of many opportunities offered in the bank to further explore several different departments and discover which career path was best suited for her goals and interests. The opportunities, provided in part by WBA and her bank, have allowed Wilson to take ownership of the career path she desired as well as continue to grow alongside the industry — long after the scholarship was awarded.

Ultimately, the opportunities have provided Wilson access to what she considers to be some of the “endless benefits of working in a community bank,” including the ability to build strong relationships with customers, develop deeper connections within the community, and develop her own path that aligns with her goals and interests.

Challenge Bowl competition

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) has existed since 2015 with a mission to empower financial decisions through education and research. I’m pleased to share that the Foundation has recently awarded a $5,000 grant to a Wisconsin non-profit organization, Asset Builders, to support its Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl.

The Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl (FICB) is a quiz bowl competition that helps teach high school students about personal finance and economics. Teachers of subjects including personal finance, economics, business, and marketing can sign up teams of students to compete in the Challenge Bowl.  The program aligns with statewide learning standards and is an effective strategy to complement what students are learning in the classroom. The tournament features student teams competing for trophies and fabulous prizes in an atmosphere of friendly competition.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a Challenge Bowl event held at the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) headquarters in Madison and was delighted to see how engaged and enthusiastic the students were. Among the “quizmasters” were DFI leaders and a number of young professionals from the banking and financial services industry that had volunteered as judges. This provided the high school students with a unique way to gain exposure to various career paths and to ask the quizmasters and judges questions about their jobs. Volunteering at the competitions is a fun and rewarding service opportunity for staff from your bank. If you or members of your staff would like to get involved with a competition in your area, please contact me.

Challenge Bowl competition

The excitement of the students, teachers, and volunteers was clear to see as the student teams rushed to hit the buzzers to earn points for their answers. There was even the occasional lively debate over the competition rules and technicalities. I was impressed to see the level of the material the students had mastered in preparation for the tournament and how much pride they took in answering the questions correctly. It was evident that the program is helping to provide the tools students need to make good financial decisions that will empower their futures.

Teams that finish in first and second place in each regional championship then advance to the state championship tournament. Because the Challenge Bowl is held at multiple locations, it is accessible for students around the state to participate in the live tournaments. The value teachers see in the Challenge Bowl is evidenced by their continued participation year after year.

Your support makes it possible for the Foundation to promote financial literacy through initiatives like the Challenge Bowl and our Reading Raises Interest program. Please consider making a financial contribution or donating an item to the silent auction fundraiser, which will be held at the WBA Bank Executives Conference, February 9–11 in Wisconsin Dells. Bankers share a commitment to bolstering the financial wellbeing and quality of life in our communities, and through the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation, we can make an impact on a statewide scale.

Triangle Background

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Last month I highlighted the financial literacy awards that our non-profit arm, the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF), distributed to several bankers in recognition of their extensive financial education efforts during our last fiscal year. Today, I’d like to share a review of several different initiatives that WBF engaged in this last fiscal year, as well as ask for your continued support so we are well-positioned for 2022.

With the help of your generous donations, WBF was able to raise $49,000 last fiscal year, which allowed for countless opportunities to further invest in the financial future of people across our state. One of WBF’s long-standing initiatives is providing scholarships to high school seniors and college students. This past year, WBF awarded a total of six scholarships valued at $10,000 to high school seniors and college students interested in banking and finance. WBF provided financial education resources to bankers across the state who reached nearly 6,000 students and adults through financial literacy-focused presentations. Finally, the research component of WBF allowed us to share with bankers and the public comprehensive and comparative data on the industry through

As I look forward to the exciting work ahead of us including a silent auction to be held in conjunction with WBA’s Bank Executive Conference in February, Teach Children to Save Day in April, as well as establishing grant programming for non-profits, I encourage you to consider donating items for the auction and/or supporting us financially to keep these programs and resources accessible for many years to come!

Since WBF is a public charity not only are your contributions 100% tax deductible, but they also support an important mission of the industry’s which is empowering financial decisions through scholarship, education, and research. I encourage you to consider making a contribution in the form of a donated item for our February silent auction or a financial contribution. The WBF Board would like to raise over $70,000 this year.

The long-held tradition of promoting financial responsibility to individuals throughout the state is a point of pride to our member bankers. In acknowledging this need for resources and education in our communities, along with the scholarships, grants, and research WBF provides, I thank you in advance for considering a gift to WBF that will keep the holiday spirit going long past the current season.


Rose Oswald Poels (left) awards Dena Hineline (center) and Sue Krause (right) with prestigious awards.

On Wednesday morning, fourteen Wisconsin bankers and ten banks were honored by the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) for their efforts in promoting financial literacy to Wisconsin’s consumers. WBF is the nonprofit arm of the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) whose mission is to assist bankers in promoting financial literacy and financial responsibility to the public and to broaden consumer empowerment in the financial services industry through research, education, grants, and scholarships.

Sue Krause, Fox Valley Savings Bank, was awarded the prestigious Financial Literacy Banker of the Year Award and Dena Hineline, Bank of Sun Prairie, was honored with the Financial Literacy Banker Award. Both Krause and Hineline also were honored with the Certificate of Excellence for exceeding twenty financial education presentations in their local communities during the Foundation’s 2020–2021 fiscal year.

Twelve individuals received a Certificate of Recognition completing at least five financial education presentations. This year’s recipients are Pam Blattner, Jimmy Kauffman, and Rob Stelzer, Bank of Sun Prairie; Kelley Jensen and Amy Shorougian, Citizens Bank in Mukwonago; Joshua Pauling, Farmers State Bank of Waupaca; Rachael Danielson, Ryma Lindquist, and Erik Thompson, First Bank of Baldwin; Craig Much, Horicon Bank; and Beth Durow and Julie Matthews, The Stephenson National Bank & Trust.

Rose Oswald Poels (left) recognizes several award recipients at WBA’s LEAD360 on November 17.

The WBF Excellence in Financial Education Award was presented to 10 WBA-member banks for their bank-wide dedication to financial education during the 2020–2021 fiscal year which encouraged over 270 bankers to get involved for the wellbeing of their communities. The banks awarded include Bank of Sun Prairie, Citizens Bank in Mukwonago, Farmers State Bank of Waupaca, First Bank of Baldwin, Fox Valley Savings Bank, Horicon Bank, National Exchange Bank and Trust, Peoples State Bank – Prairie du Chien, PremierBank – Fort Atkinson, and The Stephenson National Bank & Trust.

The outstanding efforts of all honorees were celebrated at the recent WBA LEAD360 Conference held in Wisconsin Dells. During the 2020–2021 fiscal year, these fourteen individuals and 10 banks helped WBF expand its financial education reach to nearly 6,000 people throughout the state. As a result of the pandemic, many bankers have come up with creative ways to advocate for the importance of financial literacy to consumers of all ages.

“These individuals have truly gone above and beyond in the last year to ensure that Wisconsin communities continue to have access to invaluable financial education,” said Chair of the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation Rose Oswald Poels. “We thank everyone that participated for their commitment to their communities and their overall dedication in leading the strive towards a more financially responsible state!”