Woodland students who attend Lower Columbia College now have greater opportunity to get scholarships, thanks to a large donation from a Woodland resident.

James A. Nelson donated $100,000 to LCC to fund scholarships for Woodland students interested in attending the college, according to a LCC press release.

Nelson has owned a Woodland Bottoms cattle ranch for 40 years and also worked at Weyerhaeuser Co. for 38 years, according to the press release. Though he never had any formal education, the release said, he is passionate about helping Woodland children and investing in the community.

Former LCC Board of Trustees member Tim Welch said he has been working on the scholarship for the past five years. He said when Nelson decided to sell part of his ranch, he wanted to support the scholarship.

However, at roughly the same time, Nelson had a stroke, Welch said. Nelson’s uncle handled the details of the donation, but Nelson still is heavily involved with the scholarship process, Welch said in a phone interview Wednesday.

“Jim will review applications and will be meeting recipients. It’s been a big help for Jim, keeping him engaged.”

The Woodland Friends of LCC Scholarship was established in 2015 by Woodland High School and community members to serve Woodland students, who historically have selected colleges in the Portland metro area instead of LCC, Welch said.

“We wanted to make the kids more aware of the great resource up there,” Welch said.

Since 2015, a total of $8,700 has been awarded to six Woodland students, according to the press release.

This year’s recipient is 2019 Woodland High School graduate Will Buttrell, Welch said. Buttrell received a $1,000 scholarship to study nursing at LCC, and he said it helped.

“It was a big honor to be chosen, and then to meet the person who chose you is surreal,” Buttrell told The Daily News. “Someone out there thought you were good enough to be given this gift.”

In recognition of the gift the scholarship was renamed the James A. Nelson Woodland Friends of LCC Scholarship. Supporters eventually hope to raise a $300,000 endowment, and the Nelson’s gift has boosted the endowment to $117,000, Welch said.

“When people make a donation, the money stays in the community and doesn’t go off to different part of the state,” Welch said.

The scholarship is for full-time LCC students who live in Woodland and have a minimum 2.5 grade point average. The press release said first priority goes to Woodland High School graduating seniors, and those interested in vocational education are particularly encouraged to apply. Scholarship applications for 2020-21 open in December.

Welch said if anyone is interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the scholarship endowment, they should contact him at twelch@wa-net.com.

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