Paying it Forward

Rural Indiana has long struggled to keep young people local. For Madison Pershing, this was never true.

Madison grew up in Greencastle and graduated from Greencastle High School in 2017. She attended Indiana University in Bloomington where she studied nonprofit management, eventually graduating from IU Indianapolis. Before college, Madison set some very specific goals for herself: travel a lot, graduate early and carry no student loans after college. All of which she accomplished with the help of her community.


She became a world traveler like many others in her family, after visiting Poland with one of her classes and later Ireland alongside her husband through a study abroad opportunity. She finished her bachelor’s degree a semester early and within six months had paid off her college loans. This was thanks, in part, to the generous Putnam County donors who have contributed to the Lyon Family Scholarship over the last two decades.


Since its establishment in 2003, the Lyon Family Scholarship, founded by the late Rob Lyon and the Lyon Family Foundation, has provided nearly $1 million in significant, renewable scholarships to Putnam County students like Madison.

Rob grew up in Greencastle and envisioned his scholarship fund increasing the educational attainment and per capita income of Putnam County residents. He hoped to encourage students to develop valuable skills before returning home to Putnam County with an education and access to a higher paying job.

“This scholarship fully covered my tuition each year at IU. I get teary eyed just writing this because the Lyon Family Scholarship made a huge difference in my life,” said Madison. “It’s a large reason why I decided to come back to Greencastle to work and grow my family. I’ve really been blessed by this community and will make it my life mission to give back as much as I can and in any way possible. Thank you to the Lyon Family and the Putnam County Community Foundation for entrusting me with this gift. It changed my life.”

For the past two years, Madison has worked at Area 30 Career Center as the Director of Student Services. She has also returned to school to pursue a master’s degree in school counseling. Although different from her initial plans of working for a nonprofit organization, it is the perfect fit for her – and it’s a path that carries out Rob Lyon’s legacy even further.


“I’m able to help students in Putnam County discover their passions and connect them with opportunities to explore different career pathways. It is immensely fulfilling,” said Madison. “What’s truly special is that I once walked these halls as an Area 30 student in the teacher education program. Those were some of my most cherished educational moments, and now, I’m thrilled to pay it forward and help current students experience those same opportunities.”

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  1. Congratulations, Madison, and thank you for being a ray of light in our community!! We love having you here!!

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