Rotary Club presents check to SFSC Foundation.

Rotary Club members present a check to the SFSC Foundation.

AVON PARK, Fla. – Jan. 31, 2024 – More students in Highlands County will have an opportunity to attend South Florida State College (SFSC) because of the Rotary Club of Highlands County Scott Fettinger Endowed Scholarship.

With the Rotary Club’s recent donation of over $21,000, it has met its scholarship goal of $100,000. In fact, it exceeded the goal by $16,500. Its scholarship has now become an endowed scholarship.

According to Jamie Bateman, SFSC vice president for institutional advancement and external affairs, an endowed scholarship enables donors to create a legacy, to carry funds toward student scholarships into perpetuity. Scholarships for students are awarded from the interest that the endowment earns. As the corpus grows, the SFSC Foundation can award scholarships to students for years to come.

In 2006, the Rotary Club of Highlands County established its original scholarship through the SFSC Foundation as a lasting tribute to the members of the Club and to Scott Fettinger. Fettinger was a charter member of the Club, one of the Club’s first presidents, and the driving force behind establishing the scholarship.

“This scholarship has been a hallmark project of our Rotary Club for years,” said Dave Onsted, Rotary Club of Highlands County president. “We’ve always been proud of having the largest service-based scholarship fund with the SFSC Foundation.”

Applicants for the Rotary Club of Highlands County Scott Fettinger Endowed Scholarship must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a certificate, degree, trade, or non-credit program at SFSC on at least a one-half time basis. They must be permanent residents of Highlands County, maintain a 2.75 GPA or better, and agree to attend a meeting of the Rotary Club of Highlands County to provide an update on their College program. Preference will be given to those with demonstrated financial need.

“I commend the Rotary Club of Highlands County members for what they have accomplished with this scholarship,” Bateman said. “They started with a goal and went on a journey of growing their scholarship. I applaud all of their members for this accomplishment. The Rotary Club is the second organization affiliated with the SFSC Foundation that set out to grow their scholarship to an endowment level and far exceeded expectations. The first organization was the Highlands County Bar Association.”

The inaugural Rotary Club was founded in Chicago in 1905 and Rotary International is now one of the largest service organizations in the world. The initial part of its mission states that it is to “provide service to others.”

“One of the needs that our Club saw in this community was to help our students achieve higher education goals,” Onsted said. “That doesn’t always mean a degree. A few years ago, we expanded the scholarship to allow certificate programs to be included. Students deserve an education and if they can’t afford it, that shouldn’t get in the way. So, that was the inspiration behind the establishment of the scholarship.”

Besides supporting a scholarship through the SFSC Foundation, the Rotary Club of Highlands County sponsors veterans for Freedom Honor Flights, in which veterans are flown to Washington, D.C. to visit monuments built in their honor. Currently, members of the Club are working on a Buddy Bench project. Club members intend to place a Buddy Bench at each elementary school in Highlands County by next year. “The Buddy Bench is a place where kids know that if they don’t have a playmate or if they’re left out of an activity, they can sit on the bench and it’s a sign that they need a friend,” Onsted said.

The Rotary Club of Highlands County was established 25 years ago, has approximately 25 members, and meets on Mondays at 6:15 p.m. at Dmitri’s Restaurant in Sebring.

To apply for scholarships made available through the SFSC Foundation, visit AwardSpring at: For more information about the SFSC Foundation or to make a donation, call 863-453-3133 or email