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USC snags $25K Monsanto grant

By Staff | Sep 4, 2011

At least one United South Central School Board member seems to have the midas touch when it comes to fundraising.

Monsanto has awarded the district a $25,000 grant.

And, it’s in part to the efforts of first-year board member Sharon Parriott.

A ceremony was held Tuesday at the Monsanto Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill., in recognition of the winning districts.

“We have our Rebel gear on and we’re rearing to go for the day,” she says.

Although USC officials were given a short notice on Aug. 25, Parriott says she and her two daughters decided Monday afternoon to make the nearly eight-hour trip.

“It’s a pretty big deal. It’s a long drive, but if that’s my only concern I can handle it,” she says.

Local company officials plan to hold a celebration ceremony sometime later this fall.

The grant is through Monsanto’s pilot program called “America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education.”

Producers were required to meet certain criteria before being allowed to submit their nominations online.

“This is great,” Parriott says. “I just have to thank all the farmers who helped nominate us.”

The program awards 16 grants to the nine crop-reporting districts in Illinois and seven in Minnesota.

In all, some 10,000 farmers submitted the names of more than 600 school districts.

Parriott says USC garnered the most nominations with 194. “Next to knocking on doors, we did just about everything we could,” she says.

Flyers were placed at local grain elevators, given to seed dealers and information was put on the school district’s website.

Superintendent Jerry Jensen also expressed his appreciation to Monsanto and farmers who took the time to nominate USC.

“It’s a real plus for the school system to have that type of support out there,” he says.

USC’s crop-reporting district includes the counties of Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Freeborn, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Rice, Steele, Waseca and Watonwan.

Once nominated, an application needed to be completed.

District officials had a decision to make: 13 grants were for $10,000 and three would be $25,000.

Two other finalists in this area, Glenville-Emmons and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, applied for $10,000.

“We thought, ‘Either go big or go home,'” says Parriott.

The $25,000 has been earmarked for the math and science departments.

A committee headed by Parriott was formed to develop a “wish list” of items to purchase.

Jensen says the equipment is pretty advanced technologically and helps elevate the two departments academically.

“As a district we probably wouldn’t be able to buy the items,” he says. “The equipment will help facilitate the students out of classroom experiences.”

This is the second time Parriott has spearheaded a drive to raise money to buy equipment for the district.

Earlier this year, more than $41,000 in donations was collected from businesses and residents to purchase interactive whiteboards and responders for elementary and high school students.