Across Ottawa County, hundreds of high school students annually seek financial aid as they take their next steps into adulthood via higher education. Jon Peters, the “Big Nut” superfan for The Ohio State University, is partnering with Ottawa County Community Foundation (OCCF) to address that need.
At the September OCCF Board Meeting, Peters and his wife Terese (“First Lady Nut”) presented a check for $25,000 to establish The Big Nut Scholarship – Terese Marie and Jon Paul Peters Fund, an endowed fund with the Foundation. This fund will award scholarships to students who graduate from an Ottawa County High School and attend The Ohio State University.
“We wanted to expand our scholarship program throughout Ottawa County. With this endowment fund, we can touch more students’ lives and help them achieve,” says Peters. “Providing scholarships is an honor and a blessing for the First Lady and me. It’s not what you take with you when you leave this world, it’s what you leave behind.”
Currently a Fremont resident, Peters graduated from Oak Harbor High School and has provided a scholarship for Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District students for the last several years. Through their new fund, the Peters plan to offer scholarships to graduating seniors from all the Ottawa County high schools.
Big Nut and First Lady attend OSU’s regular season games. Peters experienced his first OSU football game in the Horseshoe with his grandfather when he was just a teenager in the 1970s. He began attending games regularly, and, in 1995, won a Best Dressed contest, which proved to be the unexpected start of his game-winning notoriety.
The Peters have used the “Big Nut” attention as a way to give back. When eventually asked to do public appearances, the compensation the “Big Nut” received went into a separate bank account and ultimately turned into a scholarship fund for high school students. In addition, the Peters started an endowment fund at OSU, further helping undergraduates.
“Advanced education is so expensive,” says OCCF Executive Director Shea McGrew. “Jon and Terese’s generosity will allow many young adults to finance their dreams. We are here to help facilitate that giving in Ottawa County.”
In 2023, more than $184,000 was awarded to 153 students via more than 55 individual OCCF scholarship funds. Each scholarship fund agreement has its own set of unique requirements established by the fund donor’s wishes.
Organizations, families and individuals may set up an OCCF scholarship fund with specific parameters to help area students pursue their academic and career goals. Endowed scholarship funds require a minimum amount to establish, and annual earnings fund the scholarship.
While the majority of OCCF scholarships are for graduating high school seniors, there are several scholarships available for non-traditional students, college students seeking to study abroad, and students at a specific college. The range of OCCF scholarships available may be found at www.ottawaccf.org/scholarships.