Seven Indiana school districts have received $115,000 in grants this year from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. The program partners with farmers to support rural public school districts with innovative approaches to teaching math and science. Given the technological progress in agriculture over the past 20 years, farmers are very aware of the need for superior math and science education, especially for students in their communities.
“The technology involved with farming today is amazing! It would be great if we could capitalize on the excitement of using this technology, by getting kids engaged with math and science and technology in schools,” said Grow Rural Education Advisory Council member Walt Bones, a farmer from South Dakota.
Winning districts have designed many innovative programs for use of the grant funds, including LEGO Robotics projects, business and hands-on applications for family and consumer sciences, student-led construction of a greenhouse and a barn on school property, and various technology and science laboratory equipment upgrades.
The program starts with farmers, who can nominate a public school district in their community to apply for a grant of up to $25,000. Once all of the school district applications are submitted, a panel of math and science teachers reviews each application and selects finalists. An advisory council, composed of farmer-leaders with an interest in agriculture and education, then selects the winning grant applications from a pool of finalists.
Advisory Council member Katie Heger, who farms in North Dakota, had a hand in helping to select this year’s winners.
“Kids want to know where they’re headed, so I like projects that connect learning to careers they might be interested in. By making it connect to something that they know, we have a better chance of success,” said Heger.
The funding is utilized for math and science projects in grades K-12, to prepare students for a wider range of career prospects in an increasingly technology-driven workforce. The winning schools are following a trend in Indiana to enhance student opportunities for practical application of skills learned in the classroom. All of these projects provide opportunities for students to apply what they learn in the classroom to hands-on projects, also allowing students to explore career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math.
This program is part of the America’s Farmers initiative, which partners with farmers to support education, service organizations and youth in rural America. Visit www.GrowRuralEducation.com to see the full list of winners for this year. A sister program, America’s Farmers Grow Communities, is currently in its enrollment period. To sign up, visit www.GrowCommunities.com.