Giving Back to Their Rural Roots
Donna and Darnell Pettengill
Donna, LA’80, and Darnell, BN’80, Pettengill both grew up in rural communities and were attracted to Des Moines for the opportunities offered by the capital city.
Donna came to Drake to study political science. She took advantage of Drake’s location to work on political campaigns and intern with the house majority leader.
Darnell moved to Des Moines as a junior in high school to be a page in the Iowa Senate and stayed to attend Drake University.
While their careers post-graduation eventually took them to St. Louis and Chicago, the couple never forgot their rural roots. Their affection for rural America was strengthen by Donna’s family’s involvement in founding the DeKalb County (IL) Farm Bureau. Darnell worked for 25 years for a reinsurance company that provided services to Farm Bureaus around the country.
Their connections to rural America inspired their gift to the Jay N. Darling Institute to create the Pettengill Endowed DarlingCorps Scholarship. The scholarship will support students from rural areas and provide them with opportunities to engage in service or research projects that will benefit rural communities.
“The scholarship is going to reinforce students’ commitment to rural America,” says Darnell. “The students who will be attracted to these scholarships will be committed to making rural America a better place to live economically and socially and will have a sense of paying it forward.”
The couple says they were inspired to make this gift because of their desire to leave the world better than they found it and to see their resources working for the betterment of society during their lifetimes.
“Nobody gets to where they are on their own; it takes a village,” says Donna. “When you look back at all the people who brought you up and made you who you are, you want to help the next generation reach their goals and make the world better for their children.”