Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

When WBA’s charitable arm, the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF), was founded in 2015, education remained a top priority to aid the public in increasing their financial literacy and responsibility.

As part of this, the Foundation is proud to offer well-known programs such as Reading Raises Interest Kits that assist bankers in coordinating curriculum used during Teach Children to Save Day in April and scholarships awarded to students throughout the state for their demonstration of excellent financial capabilities. Involvement in these programs brings the Foundation one step closer to ensuring the financial knowledge and responsibility of every youth in our state.

Now through November 15, the Foundation will be accepting applications for the third annual Agricultural Banking Scholarship!

Students who will be enrolled in an accredited Wisconsin college, university, or technical college during the Spring of 2023 and are pursuing a career related to agricultural banking are encouraged to apply.

With agriculture serving as one of Wisconsin’s largest economic drivers, it is critical that we invest now in the students that are interested in driving this critical sector of our state.

The Foundation is also excited to announce this year’s Agricultural Banking Scholarship award has been increased to $1,500 each for the two qualified winners in order to help combat rising tuition costs, assist individuals in reaching their goals, and promote financial literacy in every consumer.

I encourage you to share this exciting opportunity widely within your networks — current and past ag interns, parents of college-aged children, and educators at the many ag programs throughout the state. By aiding us in spreading the word to qualified students, you play a significant part in assisting the Foundation to serve its mission as well as provide new opportunities for your community!

Please visit to learn more or contact WBF’s Foundation Coordinator Hannah Flanders with any questions.

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Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

As students around the state head back to school, the importance of ensuring every individual has access to high quality financial education and resources to improve their financial literacy continues to ring true. The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) has served since 2015 as the hub for Wisconsin bankers when looking to provide resources, including Reading Raises Interest Kits each spring, to communities across Wisconsin.

As the Foundation continues to grow, we are happy to provide small grants to Wisconsin nonprofit organizations that align with our mission of improving the financial capability of our communities.

WBF recently awarded a second $5,000 grant to Asset Builders, a Wisconsin nonprofit organization, in support of its Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl, a quiz bowl competition geared towards high school students on subjects such as personal finance, economics, business, and marketing. The program aligns with Wisconsin’s statewide learning standards and is an effective strategy to complement what students are learning in the classroom.

The Challenge Bowl serves as an exciting and interactive supplement that educators across the state year after year sign up and accompany students to participate in. As students work in small groups to prove their mastery of finance-related knowledge against their peers, they also have a unique opportunity to interact with local banking and financial services professionals, who serve as quizmasters and competition judges.

For the 2022–2023 school year, the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl tournament now has 12 regional competitions — reaching students in every corner of the state — and concludes with the state championship in Madison in May. These in-person tournaments are lively and immersive for students and volunteers alike. As the Challenge Bowl continues to expand to reach more students, I highly encourage bankers to volunteer not only to keep this value-adding program as high quality as possible, but as an opportunity to connect the banking industry with hundreds of passionate students. This type of engagement demonstrates our industry’s involvement in these critical efforts to keep our community members financially savvy. If you or any member of your staff is interested in a fun and rewarding service experience, please contact Cassie Krause, WBF’s executive director, or me.

In addition to volunteering for one of the many Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl tournaments across Wisconsin, please also consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation. Contributions made to the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization support financial education in communities across our state. Thank you for your continued support of not only the Foundation, but of programs such as the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl that offer engaging educational opportunities to Wisconsinites.

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Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) began its 2022–2023 fiscal year. The ceremony, held on June 8, formally installed President and CEO of The Stephenson National Bank and Trust Dan Peterson as WBA’s chair of the Board, welcomed several new Board officers, and thanked several members for their valuable contributions to the association as they ended their terms.

Dan was able to sit down with me for a short conversation to introduce himself to the membership and highlight the goals he has for the organization for the upcoming year.

Dan first started his career in banking as an assistant loan officer at The Stephenson National Bank and Trust in 1988. After gaining experience in all lending areas of the bank, he was promoted to his current role as president and CEO in 2013.

As chair of the WBA Board of Directors, Dan aims to deepen member engagement this fiscal year. Following nearly three years of remote or hybrid events, conferences, and schools, it is no question that bankers throughout the state are looking to reengage with their peers and gain valuable experience outside of the office.

As more education and advocacy-related opportunities at WBA return in person — such as peer groups reconvening at our office in Madison or conferences occurring at venues across the state once again — the membership is encouraged to take advantage of WBA’s selection of options to further develop skills, network among peers, or volunteer time for the benefit of our entire industry.

In addition to taking part in events held by WBA, Dan offers a few other ways bankers may consider deepening their engagement with the association. WBA’s newly renovated office in Madison features a state-of-the-art Engagement Center for members from around the state to use, and the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) — WBA’s non-profit arm — offers resources that assist bankers in further engaging and connecting with their communities on the topic of financial literacy.

As Dan, the WBA staff, and I look ahead to another summer and fall filled with opportunities for bankers to deepen their knowledge and expand professional networks — we encourage you and your staff to engage however possible. By joining our CEOnly/CFOnly Network, becoming an Advocacy Officer, or attending any WBA school or event, you assist us in better serving you!

To learn more about WBA Board Chair Dan Peterson and his goals for the upcoming fiscal year, please keep an eye out for WBA’s upcoming July Wisconsin Banker.

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Rose Oswald PoelsFrom the Desk of Rose Oswald Poels

Every day, bankers throughout the state make remarkable efforts to assist their neighbors in building a solid financial future. This tradition often goes above and beyond the normal role of bankers — taking them into classrooms or community centers — and has proved time and time again the value of the connections formed by community bankers in assisting Wisconsinites of all ages to gain important financial education. Our industry does not get enough recognition for all it does since bankers are often quick to deflect attention and praise to others.

This article serves as a reminder of the various recognition and awards that you — individually and as a bank — may apply for. I encourage all of you to take the time to apply and be recognized for the dedicated and often creative work you do to improve financial education.

Individual Financial Education Efforts

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) recognizes individual bankers for their financial literacy efforts throughout its fiscal year. Bankers are able to submit summary forms recognizing each presentation, visit, or volunteer time spent with classrooms and community members focused on increasing financial literacy. WBF compiles total numbers of presentations and/or outreach events and awards bankers based on these totals. I highly encourage bankers to submit their forms reflecting their individual efforts in financial education from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022 by the July 31 deadline. To begin submitting your summary forms, visit These awards are presented in the fall at WBA’s Lead360 Conference.


Bank-Wide Financial Education Efforts

WBF also recognizes banks as institutions for the aggregate time spent by employees during the period from June 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022 on financial education efforts. Since this award is based on the aggregate time spent by each bank on financial education initiatives, several banks may win this award. In addition, a bank may also submit an application for WBF’s most prestigious award, the Financial Education Innovation Award. This award recognizes only one member bank for its innovative approach to financial education. To learn more about WBF’s bank-wide awards or submit the summary form by July 31, visit

WBF’s Bank Award

The Bank Award compiles the various financial education efforts put forth by the whole bank and showcases the tremendous work done by all employees. This award is presented in the fall at WBA’s Lead360 Conference.

WBF’s Financial Education Innovation Award

The Financial Education Innovation Award recognizes one bank for adopting an innovative, creative, and/or unique approach to financial education annually. Now presented at WBA’s Bank Executives Conference in February, this well-deserved honor recognizes a bank’s innovative approach to financial education.


2022 Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards

In addition to submitting a summary of financial education activities and efforts to WBF for recognition, I highly encourage bankers around the state to also consider applying for one of three categories of the 2022 Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards.

Recipients are selected by a subcommittee of the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability based on their excellence in increasing financial literacy, capability, and inclusion among Wisconsin residents. I am proud to be a member of this Governor’s Council but have noted that in the past few years very few banks have been applying for this recognition all the while credit unions are applying. The awards highlight individuals, businesses/organizations, and legacy efforts throughout the state to improve financial education.

I highly encourage banks to share their financial education efforts by submitting the 2022 Governor’s Financial Literacy nomination form by the December 2 deadline for the chance to be recognized for the outstanding work bankers engage in every day. The nomination forms are now available, so do not wait until later this year to submit your bank’s nomination.

Students from the West Salem “Pink Panthers” test out their buzzers at the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl State Tournament, hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

The Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl tournament for high school students across Wisconsin culminated in the state championship on Wednesday, May 18. The tournament is organized by the nonprofit organization Asset Builders and championship sponsors included the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation, Associated Bank, Huntington Bank, Old National Bank, and U.S. Bank.

Thank you to the WBA-member bankers who volunteered as quizmasters, scorekeepers, and judges at the championship tournament: Colin Brown, U.S. Bank; Lynn Boelter, First Federal Bank; Melissa Castillo, Monona Bank; Donna Cotter, Old National Bank; Leann Eddingsaas, First Federal Bank; and Matt Moore, U.S. Bank.

The Challenge Bowl is an opportunity for students to build upon their classroom learning in finance and economics in a fun and engaging environment. The spirit of friendly competition was evident as the teams competed for trophies and prizes.

Congratulations to this year’s winners (and their teachers):

  • First place – State Champion: Sun Prairie (Kurt Nickelsburg)
  • Second-place: Monroe (Erin Speth)
  • Final Four teams: Nicolet (Dan Schramka) and Monroe
  • Consolation Champion: Green Bay East (Scott Christy), with Stevens Point (Mike Olson) coming in second
  • Crowdpurr individual competition: students from Rhinelander (Patrick Kubeny), Milton (Nick Manogue), and Middleton (Shane Leadholm) finished in the top four spots.

Look for more information in the Wisconsin Banker Daily this fall on how to get involved with a regional tournament in your area.

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!