Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. sponsors the Toyota Motor Sales Tribal College Scholarship Program. Each year this program provides scholarship assistance to more than 100 students, helping them work toward obtaining their degrees at various tribal colleges and universities across the nation. Toyota has funded the program for 12 years, helping more than 1,000 American Indian tribal college students earn a college degree since 2000.
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus, and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of nearly 1,500 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers which sold more than 1.77 million vehicles in 2009. Toyota directly employs nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion. Toyota is committed to being a good corporate citizen and focuses its support in the areas of education, the environment and safety. Since 1991, Toyota has contributed approximately $500 million to philanthropic programs in the U.S. For more information visit www.toyota.com, www.lexus.com, www.scion.com, or www.toyotanewsroom.com.
The old saying that the fruit does not fall far from the tree is true in Amy Lankford-Coffman's case. Amy says her mother always told her, "Get an education; it is the one and only thing that can never be taken away from you." Amy's mother is a member of the Salish Tribe of the Flathead Reservation in Montana and an accomplished leader in her field, both as the head of the Northwest Power council and as a state-appointed employee for the Governor of Montana.
Amy decided to follow her mother's advice and enrolled at Salish Kootenai College, where she is a fourth-year environmental science student.
Amy knows that education is as important as family and community are to her people, both as a mother of two children, wife, and member of her community. "I have made my place in my community as a friend to all. I am also an avid listener to elder storytelling and a taker of any advice that they offer as I have realized that they know more than young people and they are willing teach us," she says.
Amy reports that education has boosted her confidence in many ways, including giving her the courage to try to achieve her career goal of becoming a National Wildlife Refuge manager. "I have always been passionate towards the protection of the environment and all of its inhabitants. Believing in myself has allowed me to not second-guess my schoolwork. I can now speak well publicly, and my grades have improved to top levels. I always strive to be the best that I can be, because for my family and me there are no other options," Amy says.
The decision to attend college and the journey to earn her degree were not easy for Amy, despite the long-term economic benefits. "My decision to continue my education was made when I was working at an entry-level job earning tips that barely paid rent. My husband and I had a young child and another one on the way at this time. We knew the years that school would not be financially easy. It was a leap of faith on our part for me to return to school," she says, crediting her husband and family with providing her with the help and inspiration she needed to succeed. "This summer my job required me to live away from my husband and kids and our families stepped in to help. I could not have done this without them. Our families always see to it that we are not alone in our everyday battle to just put food on the table or have a nice Christmas. My education will allow me to have a career that will help us to repay our supportive families, even though they say that seeing us succeed is repayment enough. We feel so blessed to have good, supportive family," she says.
Amy's goal is to achieve a bachelor's degree in environmental science and become part of wildlife and ecology management at Fish and Wildlife Service. "I believe that environmental science is the biggest topic in the world today. There is a large demand for people who have the academic background in this discipline," Amy says.
Amy has excelled in her studies because, "I believe that every day, every class, every assignment is so very important. My ability to follow through with all of these responsibilities reflects not only me as a student; it also reflects my ability to be a capable future employee in the natural resource field. I treat school as if it is my job. Learning is a privilege," she says, adding that seeing her learn and achieve has also inspired her children. "It makes my heart happy to their see their interest in all that I am learning. I have inspired my six-year-old daughter to become a scientist and my three-year-old son to be an animal rescuer," she says.
Amy was nominated by her instructors, employers and co-workers in the Department of Interior to be a SCEP (Student Career Experience Program) student. "I received the SCEP position and I am now in a management series and will be placed at a refuge immediately after graduation. The sky is the limit for me and I will represent Salish Kootenai College well," Amy says.
"School has not always been easy. There have been many sacrifices made by my family. I want this leap of faith that my husband and I took 3 years ago to pay off. Scholarships have contributed greatly to my success and are appreciated, because without them I would have not been able to go to school and make a better life," Amy says. "Going to school and also raising a family would not be possible without your scholarships. It is just nice to know that people believe in my educational goals and in me. Thank you from my family and myself."