At its annual scholarship selection meeting, the Erickson Merkel Foundation Board of Directors recently picked its second round of Workhorse Scholars.

Four candidates were selected after the review process ended this year, resulting in Angela Wilhelm, Lexi Alberts, Gunnar Nemitz and Sarah Kerr being named the 2016 Workhorse Scholars. All candidates were immediately notified. Profiles of the candidates will be posted soon.

EMF Chairman Sean Merkel said the number and quality of the candidates had grown exponentially in the second year, which he felt was encouraging.

“I think I echo the rest of the Board’s feelings by saying I was hopeful we’d have more candidates this year, and I was extremely surprised,” Merkel said. “We had nearly 20 times the applicants this year as last, and many were extremely high-caliber. It’s really great to be reminded of how many hard workers are out there taking control of their own futures.”

Due to the previous hard work of EMF Scholarship Director Betsy Johnson, the EMF scholarships found may further listings among scholarship websites. That increased the number of candidates from the mid-40s in 2015, to nearly 800 this year. To handle the massive influx of applications, a scholarship selection committee began application review in advance of the board meeting.

The four winners will receive a total of $6,000 in scholarships, to be awarded this fall semester. Funding for the scholarships continues in earnest by EMF members. The North Dakota team held a Winter Dummy Race earlier this year south of Bismarck/Mandan. The Minnesota team coordinated a successful 5K Fun Run/Walk, and will also be hosting a fundraising event in concert with a St. Paul Saints game this August.