2017-18 Grants in Place Recipients Are Announced!

Teachers and students strengthen the bonds between schools and communities!

June 8, 2017 |

Grants in Place projects engage students and build community!

The 2017-18 Grants in Place program is a cooperative venture between the Rural Schools Collaborative, partner organizations and committed donors. This year's funding will support 35 projects serving as many as 45 communities in 11 states.

More than twenty funders and individual donors came together to invest $136,000 in rural place-based education initiatives and projects. The groundbreaking work of the Community Foundation of the OzarksRural Schools Partnership certainly led the way, but other organizations and funders clearly recognize the importance of supporting community-based student learning that serves a public purpose.

Please check out the projects listed below. Rural Schools Collaborative funded projects were selected from more than 125 applications from 15 different states. We hope you will join us in our ongoing efforts to enlist additional funders and create more place-based opportunities for rural teachers and their students.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this wonderful place-based learning initiative.

ALABAMA: Funding provided by Parker Griffith Family Foundation, Jefferson County Alabama Federation of Teachers, University of West Alabama, Black Belt Teachers Corps, Larry Lee, Susan McKim, Sandra Thomastan, and Horace Williams with matching funds from the Rural Schools Collaborative.

Cherokee Elementary School, Guntersville, Teresa Zimmer, Gifted Specialist, $800, Making Makers, Growing Givers, project will provide opportunities for 3rd-5th grade gifted students to become "makers," allowing them to learn by doing and become designers, innovators and entrepreneurs of the future. Learn how this service-learning project is engaging students.

Haleyville City Schools, Michael McCandless, $350, Physics Project, physics students studying optics, light reflection and refraction will make use of their recently learned principles of light to construct a parabolic reflector solar heater and cooker to demonstrate how alternative sources of energy can be used to cook food, heat water, and heat indoor living areas. Under the supervision of the teacher, local engineer, and local contractor, these students will video the conceptual design and construction of a 48" parabolic reflector. Check out the ups and downs of this solar energy effort.

Livingston Junior HIgh School/Black Belt Teacher Corps members, Haley Richardson, Elizabeth Waddell and Austin Bishop, $3,000, Makerspace/STEM Lab project at Livingston Junior High School See how this good project has progressed! Here is another nice element of this project.

Madison Cross Road, Annette Sears $255, Gardens to Go, students will be responsible for the care, distribution, and written instructions for home care of the plants that they start from seed. The students will be involved in making transplant bags, which will be made from woven ground cover material. The families will be able to take the bags and transplant the new plants. Check out a photo essay on this project.

Pisgah High School, Brad Moore, $1,000, Eagles Working for Wood Ducks, a project to teach students construction, conservation, chemistry, ecology, and public relation skills. The program is placing wood duck nesting boxes, constructed by the students, on to local cattle farm ponds while measuring water conditions. This involves, but is not limited to nest box construction, contacting local landowners about placement of boxes, installing and maintaining boxes, and monitoring water pH conditions and chemical make-up. Read an excellent recap of this fine project.

Wedowee Elementary School, Tammy Simpson, $1,000, Wildlife Tracks Station Project, students will use the wildlife tracks station to track and record wildlife animals that visit the outdoor classroom. See how this good outdoor project turned out!

Westside Elementary School, Demopolis/Black Belt Teacher Corps member, Paige Gandy, $1,000, Lights, Camera, Teach, a reflective video model focusing on teaching and student learning. Read a wonderful recap of this good effort.

Westside Elementary, US Jones Elementary, Demopolis Middle School, and Demopolis High School/Black Belt Teacher Corps member, Allie Marques, $1,000, The Sprouting Minds Garden project to engage students and community. This outstanding effort has made some great strides! Here is another good story on the outcomes of this project.

ARKANSAS: Funded by the Rural Community Alliance with matching funds from the Rural Schools Collaborative

Earle High School, Sandress McVay, $400, Civics Understanding, this project will ensure community awareness of the voting zones through the students' creation and public distribution of a pamphlet. Community members from each zone, plus the zone's elected representative, will be contacted and asked to participate by the students residing in that zone. See the result of this good student supported effort!

Rose Bud School, Megan Johnson, $700, Connect Rose Bud, students from Rose Bud School District in business, marketing, and communication classes will create and maintain a town website. Currently, there is no website for the town of Rose Bud. This town website will contain multiple features such as a community calendar, business information, and town news.

Marshall Elementary School, Searcy County School District, Heather Bohannan, $500, Read to Succeed, project will partner with the Elementary School and Public Library Hattie House Youth Center in an effort to promote and improve reading ability and levels in local at risk children. Learn more about the exciting developments and results of this summertime project.

Western Grove School, Bobbi Grandon, $700, Mentoring through Arkansas History, interdisciplinary Literacy and Arkansas History project. The students will study Arkansas' regions while reading A Painted House by John Grisham. The students will discover Arkansas' unique geography while creating a 3-dimensional map of Arkansas. Check out the work and booklet produced by these engaged rural students in Arkansas!

CALIFORNIA: Funding provided by the Rural Schools Collaborative

French Gulch-Whiskeytown Elementary, Ember Swan, $750, Outdoor Classroom, this community-based project will develop an outdoor classroom for primary-aged students. The setting will include native plants and a butterfly garden and will involve Whiskeytown National Park and Recreation Area staff. Here is a news story on the grant award for this project; check out these photos of the project in action! Here are Facebook photos of more good outcomes.

ILLINOIS: Funding provided by Southern Illinois University, Egyptian School District, and Brian and Denise Reid with matching funds from the Rural Schools Collaborative.

Effingham High School, Joe Fatheree, $944, Hydroponics Program to teach students the value of agriculture, to understand alternative farming techniques, and the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle. Read Mr. Fatheree's excellent summary of this project.

Egyptian School District, Tamms, Linda Davis, $20,000 Egyptian's August Moon, a place-based summer project for students in grades 5-7, focused on the upcoming August 21, 2017 eclipse. The world is converging on southern Illinois as it will be the point of greatest duration. This project was funded in its entirety by Southern Illinois University and the Egyptian School District. Learn more about the outcome of this exciting project.

Kansas Schools, Casey Harley, $1,000 Landscaping for Kansas Signs, bringing school/community together, creating a peaceful environment, and instilling a beautiful atmosphere all in one project is the ultimate goal of this place-based effort.

MASSACHUSETTS: Funding provided by the Rural Schools Collaborative

Mohawk Trail Regional School, Shelburne Falls,, Roxanne Trombly, French teacher/Communications and Leadership teacher, $300, Project Daffodil, students will plant 1,000 daffodil bulbs in the front of our school next fall and open the spring with joy for the students , faculty and community with a burst of sunny color that will last for hundreds of years to come. It will be spectacular and tie into our community bridge of flowers in Shelburne Falls. Read about this project's unique connection to community, here.

MINNESOTA: Funding provided by the West Central Initiative with matching support from the Rural Schools Collaborative

Ashby Public School, Heidi Kent, middle school science teacher, $1,000, Park Ecosystem Study, students will do a field study of a public area--check water quality and pollution levels (with guidance from the Grant County Water Conservation District), do a wildlife species count, plant species count, and create a small information display to communicate our findings. We will create a bird watching arena by putting in a few bird feeders, bird bath, and bird/duck houses in select spots. We will add a few berry trees, shrubs, and perennials that will attract birds and butterflies.

Breckenridge Elementary/Middle School, Abbigail Paulseth, 4th grade teacher, $1,000, Outdoor Classroom & Greenhouse, students will develop an outdoor classroom and greenhouse that will primarily be used and kept up by fourth grade students for years to come through place based learning. Check out Abbigail's update on this ongoing project!

Lake Park Audubon Elementary School, Kathrina O'Connell, $1,000, Audubon, Art & Student Achievement, his project is meant to focus on the conservation efforts of John James Audubon and his influence on Audubon. It is important for the students to learn about their community, John James Audubon, and the wildlife surrounding us. Students will achieve this task by working together to research the life of Audubon and the beginnings of their town. Highlighting the various birds in our community will be accomplished through observations using bird baths/ feeders in our wildflower garden during different seasons. Students will take pictures of the birds, then they will print the pictures and sketch and/or paint bird art back in the classroom. The research, maintenance of the bird bath/feeders, and photography-based artwork will create pride and wonder as the students learn about the history of their small, rural town. Check out the amazing results of this in-depth, multi-disciplinary project!

Minnewaska Area Schools, Jodee Lund, technology integration specialist, $900, Minnewaska Makery, a makerspace project that will build Little Free Libraries for placement in the community. See the results of this wonderful summer project!

Ulen-Hitterdal Public School, Janet Masesse, 3rd grade teacher, $600, Illustrated History Stories, students will work with the Ulen Museum board, and they will publicize a community historical event that will be made available to the public. Learn more about this wonderful place-based effort.

MISSOURI: The Community Foundation of the Ozark’s Rural Schools Partnership and Louis L. Coover and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation of Commerce Trust provided full funding for these place-based education projects.

Aurora High School Youth Empowerment Project, Dr. Travis Shaw, Brad Bottler and Kim Mobley, $16,000, grant funding for students to create an interactive place for research, storytelling, preservation, history and art at the Houn' Dawg Alumni and Outreach Center. Check out how this extensive effort is shaping the Aurora community!

Gasconade County Historical Society and Gasconade County schools, Iris Stovall, Maribeth Dann and Alida Bader, $5,825, grant will help train area students, working with volunteers and a professional archivist, to use computers to catalogue, digitize and preserve original materials for use by researchers and future generations of Gasconade County.

Health Haven Botanical Gardens and West Plains Public Schools, Suzanne Davis, $8,327, grant will help purchase hands-on tools and equipment to be used by students attending the Gardens and to aid the development and maintenance of the planned seven-acre learning center. Check out all of the great progress on this project!

Placeworks, Kate Baird, $50,000, will provide high quality, place-based arts programming to as many as 10 rural Ozarks school districts that are part of the Rural Schools Partnership. Teaching artists work on a case-by-case basis to design projects that meet curricular goals and student developmental needs. Placeworks in action! You will want to read this outstanding story in a regional newspaper.

Willow Springs Elementary School, Bobby Cottengim and Chirs Rodgers, $7,475 Community & Business Leaders Technology Project, provides an opportunity for students to work hand-in-hand with area business and community leaders in utilizing new technologies and Chromebooks to research and learn more about work and projects in the area.

NEBRASKA: Funding provided by the Rural Schools Collaborative

Oakland-Craig Public School, Angie Meyer, $995, Piecing Together Our Stories, a multi-discipline schoolwide effort will engage students of all ages in a barn quilt activity that will celebrate the 150th year of Oakland. Learn more about how the quilt project fits into this community-wide celebration.

NORTH DAKOTA: Funding provided by the Rural Schools Collaborative

Lisbon High School, Kerri Zahrbock, $300, Community Mentorship, high school juniors and seniors are placed with community leaders in areas that reflect the students interests. Students will be engaged in and learn through hands-on experiences provided by their respective community mentors. You will want to read the excellent news feature on this project.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Funding provided by Dakota Resources, Jim Beddow and Mike Knutson with matching support from the Rural Schools Collaborative. Five of these projects were in conjunction with the Dakota Resources-sponsored Growing Together Better and have a community/economic development focus.

Altall School, Missy Urbaniak, $400, A History of our Area, grant focus will be on the history of Atall School and the communities of Fairpoint and Chalk Butte. Students will conduct interviews of neighbors and family members, as well as take small field trips to the Stoneville School Museum and Sturgis Public Library. Copies of books on local history will also be purchased to aid in the students' research. Check out this project update.

Eureka School District, Kaci Vander Vorst, $1,000, This grant project will work with Eureka Community Development (ECDC) to provide students with the opportunity to promote Eureka School and the community in a positive way by using multimedia, audio, and visual broadcasting elements. Here is some great information on the progress of this fine community development project!

Kimball School, Drew Gillogy, $1,000, Sharing Kimball Awareness, Kimball School and Kimball Economic Development will work together on promoting the town of Kimball. A drone will be purchased and the Kimball School multimedia classes will make a video featuring the town! The multimedia class will incorporate into their curriculum of learning how to use different technology of recording, putting music in the background of a video, and making a video. Check out their progress, here!

Leola Public School, Bev Myer, $1,000, Living and Learning in Leola, is a student-driven school-based research and service learning effort powered by the Leola Public Schools, in collaboration with the City of Leola and Leola Development Corporation. Check out this update.

McIntosh High School, La Kisha Jordan, $1,000, Cooking Live!, a student-centered effort that will partners with local businesses to promote local foods and how to prepare them in a healthy, delicious and nutritious manner. See how McIntosh students embraced their local food scene here!

Redfield Public School, Lee Ann Wasmoen, $1,000, Engage Today, Build for Tomorrow, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) students will partner with the Redfield Empower Group in the distribution of a community survey designed to gather ideas on how to strengthen our community. Students will also be involved in collecting the data and developing a long-range plan to make our community a better, safer, and healthier place to live.

WISCONSIN: Funding for this project was provided by American Family Insurance, Dean Lund Agency, Inc., Cambridge FFA Alumni and the Cambridge School District

Severson Learning Center, School District of Cambridge, Jen Scianna, Sevenson Learning Center director, $5,000, Ag Corps Project. High school students will work with a college intern and faculty leader to develop and implement conservation projects and support the community garden at the Severson Learning Center, which serves as the school farm. Check out the grant award event at the Severson Learning Center. Here is an excellent magazine feature of the work that was done at the Severson Learning Center.

Learn more about our Grants in Place recipients for 2015-16 and 2016-17.

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