Our state and community is home to many talented young people who are exploring different career options. For those who want to pursue a worthwhile and fulfilling career as a Hoosier educator, the state offers Next Generation Teacher Scholarships, providing future teachers money for college.

Up to 200 scholarships of $7,500 each year for up to four years are available to high-achieving Hoosier students who commit to teaching in Indiana for five consecutive years upon graduation. Applicants need to meet certain academic requirements, including either graduating in the highest 20 percent of their high school class or earning a score in the top 20th percentile on the SAT or ACT.

Applications are due by Nov. 30, and at that time, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education will review submissions and select finalists by Jan. 5, 2018. Those selected to receive scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year will be notified in April of next year.

These scholarships will be offered each year in an effort to continue attracting talented Hoosiers to the teaching profession.

Applications are online at www.learnmoreindiana.org. Program and academic requirements can also be found at this site, as well as a list of colleges throughout the state offering teacher preparation programs.

Other scholarships for teachers include the William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship, the Student Teaching Stipend for High-Need Fields and the Earline S. Rogers Student Teaching Stipend for Minorities. Information about these scholarships can also be found by visiting www.learnmoreindiana.org.

Educators play a vital role in the lives of our children. Personally, many teachers I had growing up were great role models and had a positive impact on my life. In fact, my government teacher is the one who encouraged me to get involved in politics. Without my teacher's encouragement, I wouldn't be serving as your State Representative, which is an opportunity I cherish.

For those young people in Hamilton County who want to teach, please consider applying for a Next Generation Teacher Scholarship. The money will help cut down on college costs and could ultimately mean less debt upon graduation. Then, you can take your talents and passion for teaching to Hoosier classrooms and help make a difference in the lives of future generations.

Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at h29@in.gov.