Idaho's Devon Barker-Hicks is the 2019 National Signature Project Award Winner!

The NREA and RSC jointly sponsor this Grants in Place program.

May 6, 2019 |
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Devon Barker-Hicks of Meadows Valley School in New Meadows, Idaho is the 2019 National Signature Project Award recipient.

The National Rural Education Association and the Rural Schools Collaborative are proud to announce that Devon Barker-Hicks of Meadows Valley School in Idaho has received the 2019 National Signature Project Award for her place-based project, "Build the Ripple."

Barker-Hicks is the second National Signature Project Award recipient, following last year's selection, Andrea Wood, from Moorcroft, Wyoming. Barker-Hicks will receive an award of $3,000, which will be applied to her project and support a professional development presentation of her work at some point in the future.

Devon described her "Build the Ripple" project:

Last year my students studied housing problems in our area and around the world. During this project, they built a tiny home as an example of one possible solution to our housing crisis. We are a few weeks away from selling our home and using the profits to help the City of New Meadows buy new playground equipment. In the fall of 2019, we want to work with the city and local contractors to help plan out the playground and install the equipment. Our goal is to pay it forward by building the ripple.


This service project will enhance the students learning in many areas and will focus on the impact they can make in their rural community of 600 people. We are in need of additional financial support to install the playground equipment with our students working alongside the contractors, work with local community business to learn how to best plan and install the equipment, and for an informational kiosk. Following the installation, my 8th-grade students will work on a writing project to create an informational kiosk for the park highlighting the history of the park, the role the local students had in building the tiny home to fund the new playground equipment, to designing and installing the new playground equipment.

Devon Barker-Hicks is a native Idahoan of Basque heritage with 20 years of experience teaching children from 3rd grade through high school. She earned a BA at the College of Idaho, a Masters in Teaching at the University of Idaho, and National Board Certification in 2001 and again in 2011. Devon currently teaches middle school English Language Arts and Social Studies at Meadows Valley School, with a focus on place-based education

The daughter of John and Marye’ Barker of Lewiston, Devon is a world champion kayaker, with a goal of kayaking on all seven continents (only Asia and Antarctica to go!). She also enjoys skiing, rafting, reading, and spending time with her husband, Mike.

Devon is passionate about helping kids find exciting alternatives to drug and alcohol abuse through her Dare to Kayak program. Devon believes “anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” She motivates and inspires her students with the belief that anything can be achieved with hard work, dedication, and a deep-down drive that says, “I can do it."

We invite you to learn more about all of our Grants in Place projects. Since 2015 the Rural Schools Collaborative and its partners have awarded more than $400,000 in support of innovative place-based education projects. Thanks again to NREA executive director Dr. Allen Pratt for his assistance with this program.

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