Kansas School Districts Implement $45,000 in Grants for Greenhouses and Outdoor Classrooms

Rural school districts in Kansas are digging into math and science education by taking the classroom outdoors and into the garden. One way districts are growing interest among students is by building greenhouses that provide hands-on learning opportunities. In Kansas, Southern Lyon County School District, Grinnell Public Schools, and North Jackson USD 335 initiated greenhouse projects, with grants they received through America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.

Mike Argabright, superintendent for Southern Lyon County School District, says that measurement and analysis of plants and activity in the greenhouse will contribute to a better understanding of math and science.

“Having a greenhouse will teach the students about support systems and how to analyze the results of the growing process,” said Argabright. “It also provides them with a new and applied perspective on local and rural aspects of the economy, entrepreneurship and agriculture.”

Southern Lyon County School District received a grant of $25,000 to build two greenhouses, where vegetables will be grown and then sold to the schools’ kitchens. One greenhouse is being built at Olpe Junior-Senior High school and a second will be shared between Hartford High School and Neosho Rapids Junior High.

Grinnell Public Schools is focused on meeting their college and career readiness standards with their greenhouse project. According to Mike McDermeit, superintendent for Grinnell Public Schools, students can improve their understanding of math and science through learning about proportions and measurement associated with the monitoring of growth rates, fertilizer and water. Grinnell Public Schools received a $10,000 grant through the program and plans to begin construction on their greenhouse this spring.

“We are providing students with real life, hands-on opportunities to help them learn the value of math and science in a rural community where agriculture is at the center of what we do,” said McDermeit.

North Jackson USD 335 is also building a greenhouse with their $10,000 grant. It will have a heating and cooling unit as well as equipment like digital microscopes, planter benches, pH meters, probes and soil testing kits, to help students conduct experiments in the greenhouse.

In all, $485,000 in grants was awarded to 35 school districts across the country dedicated to building greenhouses and outdoor classroom learning environments. These new opportunities are designed to provide real-world experiences that help grow the next generation by preparing them for success in college and in their careers.

Now in its third year, the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program is once again gearing up to help rural school districts by investing over $2.3 million to strengthen math and science education in rural communities.

Between now and April 6, 2014, farmers have the opportunity to nominate their local public school district to compete for a grant of either $10,000 or $25,000. Administrators from nominated school districts can then submit grant applications for either amount, through April 21, 2014 to enhance their math and/or science programs.

For more information about the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program and to view the official rules, a list of eligible states, counties and CRDs, visit www.GrowRuralEducation.com.