Monsanto presents $25,000 grant to WDC for second greenhouse
Wadena-Deer Creek School District received a $25,000 grant from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, on Oct. 13. The district will use the money to construct a 24-by-72 foot high-tunnel greenhouse for growing plants, fruits and vegetables.
Construction will begin the spring of 2015, adjacent to the 24-by-32-foot passive-solar greenhouse built in 2013 on the WDC Middle/High School campus.
In conjunction with the school’s Garden to Kitchen program, K-12 students will have the opportunity to grow strawberries, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, flowers, and much more throughout the school year with their new greenhouse. Partnering with local universities and farmers, students will gain an understanding of food production from start to finish. The fresh vegetables and fruit will be harvested and then given to the school’s cafeterias to promote healthy living and eating habits.
“It is extremely important we educate our youth in all areas of food production, whether that’s commercial, traditional or organic,” said Richard Muckala, WDC agriculture instructor, who completed the grant application for WDC Schools.
Mr. Muckala believes students need a global understanding of sustainable food and fiber production, which he feels is key to feeding an ever-growing population.
“We here at Wadena-Deer Creek want to educate our students about that reality and provide them with the skills necessary to be a part of the solution. There’s a vast array of careers that need science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) savvy employees, especially within the agriculture industry. With this Grow Rural Education grant and the support of our local farmers, we can provide hands-on learning opportunities for our students to develop the skills needed to succeed in STEM careers.”
This past spring, local farmers nominated the district for a chance to apply for the grant. School administrators then designed a math- and science-based project for the grant application. Once all of the school district applications were submitted, a panel of math and science teachers reviewed each application and selected finalists. An advisory council, composed of farmer-leaders with an interest in agriculture and education, then selected the winning grant applications from a pool of finalists.
“Agriculture has become one of the most technologically advanced industries, so farmers are very aware of the need for superior math and science education, particularly in their own communities,” said Monsanto Customer Advocacy Lead Linda Arnold. “We are proud to partner with farmers to support the things that are most important to them—schools, youth, and their community.”
WDC celebrated receiving the grant on Oct. 13, during the school’s last regular-season volleyball game. Nominating farmers, school representatives and local Monsanto representative, Preston Dagen, attended the event.
WDC Superintendent Lee Westrum is excited to see a second greenhouse on campus that will provide additional produce and cultivate students’ minds.
“Hats off to Mr. Muckala! He did an excellent job preparing the Monsanto grant application. The Monsanto grant is very competitive and it is a testament to the hard work and expertise of Mr. Muckala that WDC was awarded $25,000 to build an additional greenhouse to compliment the passive-solar greenhouse and school garden that are currently in place."
Supt. Westrum also expressed appreciation to Monsanto’s “Grow Rural Education” program and local farmers who nominated WDC for the grant.
“Thank you to Monsanto for the $25,000 grant, we greatly appreciate it! And thank you to the area farmers who supported the WDC application, we couldn’t have done it without you.”
Grow Rural Education encourages farmers to nominate a local public school district, which can then compete for a grant of up to $25,000. Since 2011, Grow Rural Education has invested more than $7 million to support math and science education in rural school districts across the country.
This program is part of the America’s Farmers initiative, which partners with farmers to support education, service organizations and youth in rural America.