The REDI Program at Monmouth College, RSC’s Illinois Hub Partner, was the focus of two different media outlets in the last few weeks: the Illinois State Board of Education’s monthly newsletter, L.I.N.K., and WHBF-TV Channel 4, a CBS affiliate out of Rock Island, Illinois. Coming after a long year of working hard to continue supporting area schools and students, this recognition is heartening.
WHBF-TV Channel 4 on Monmouth College's REDI Farm
As reported earlier, the REDI team at Monmouth took to the Pandemic with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency. Recognizing that their garden curriculum and college farm were inherently conducive to a new era of social distancing, they went into the 2020-2021 school year intent on building up their capacity to serve students and schools. At a time when support for local communities was most needed, the REDI team knew that expanding their offerings would provide a space for local families to convene and renew their bonds to each other and their place.
Craig Vivian, chair of the Educational Studies department, tells reporters in the news segment that “the Monmouth College Farm is indicative of this place,” and that “you can do every subject here at the farm.” Jennifer Dickens, the REDI program coordinator, confirms this sentiment in the interview, “Monmouth College is a school in a community, so we are going to try and use the assets of this community to do this work.” The farm, she adds, is “a way to bring those community connections and an understanding of their place into learning. By bringing those together, we hope that we can revitalize and strengthen rural communities."
“Monmouth College is a school in a community. . . The farm is a way to bring those community connections and an understanding of their place into learning. By bringing those together, we hope that we can revitalize and strengthen rural communities.”
In the Channel 4 interview, reporters were able to talk with one such a family in the Monmouth community. Freeman and Audrey Dovo live in Monmouth and have two young children. Freeman remarks that he and his wife were “looking for a way for their kids to connect more to the town.” He continues by saying that his family was “invited to visit the Monmouth College Farm and the children fell in love with it.”
One crowning achievement of the past year that helped the REDI program redouble on their efforts was being awarded a $25,000 grant from Compeer Financials' Fund for Rural America. Already, the Educational Studies department had hosted a series of experiential and inquiry-based farm tours for area students. The team also drew up plans to bring even more local classes out to the farm at different seasons to witness change over time, including a series of activities for area English language learners.
Rural Schools Collaborative is a proud partner of Monmouth College in our Illinois hub - we are honored to see this transformative impact of place-based methodologies on the local community.