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USC receives $25K gift

By Staff | Oct 7, 2018

At the announcement of the $25,000 gift at a USC football game, were, left to right, Reggie the USC Rebel mascot, Monsanto representative Jordan Drager, USC instructor Doug Sahr, Monsanto rep. Tim Stenzel, USC activities director Joe Kuechenmeister and USC High School principal Kelly Schlaak.

America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education called on local farmers to help nominate rural schools to receive nearly $2.3 million in grants to enhance their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. Local farmers answered the call, and the Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer, has recognized United South Central in Faribault County with a $25,000 grant.

USC will be using their Grow Rural Education program funds to focus on two important goals for the school: making the industrial technology shop more safe with new and upgraded tools, and modernizing class offerings by helping meet the same training expectations in the career and technical education (CTE) industry.

“America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education is a special program because farmers play a key role in nominating local schools and evaluating and selecting the grant winners,” said Al Mitchell, Monsanto Fund president. “Each year, countless school winners tell us that these grants make a positive impact in their class-rooms. For some, the results are evident in student test scores, and many educators say their students are more excited about STEM?courses.”

USC is no exception.

“We are grateful to the Monsanto Fund for this opportunity to improve and expand our Industrial Tech class and other CTE (career and technical education) and STEM classes,” says USC superintendent Keith Fleming. “We look forward to creating more innovative curriculum for our students at USC.”

Doug Sahr, a USC alumni and current industrial tech teacher for the past three years, says the improvements in the CTE classes will greatly improve a student’s ability to find a career in woodworking or metalworking after high school.

“We are fairly well-equipped with our industrial tech class in the first place, the issue was that the equipment we had was 30 to 40 years old,” says Sahr. “It’s not like we couldn’t get by with it, but safety and updating to more modern equipment were two goals we had with this grant. Now, we have saw stops for our table saws, newer equipment which actually gives our students more space to learn, as well as new metal equipment like a digital read-out for lathes. Industrial companies demand precision, and now we can meet those industries at least half way with our new equipment and curriculum.”

Sahr says when he was a student, USC industrial tech students would help with Habitat for Humanity projects. Now, students still continue to reach out to their community through their classwork projects. Two years ago, the USC industrial tech class built a ticket booth for their football stadium, and last year’s class constructed a garden shed for the USC Education Foundation’s annual “Price Is Right” fundraiser.

“Part of the industrial tech class shows students how to stay financially viable, but also to be more involved. We look for community members who are in search of projects,” says Sahr.

Now farmers, educators, and students in the USC school district can continue to embrace and enhance their communities thanks in part to the farmers who helped nominate USC, the grant writers and educators like Doug Sahr, and grant opportunities like that of Monsanto Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program.

Since 2011, the Grow Rural Education program has worked with farmers to award more than $16 million in grants to rural public school districts. USC is just one of the many success stories of the Grow Rural Education program.

To qualify for the grant, farmers nominate a public school district to compete for a merit-based grant of either $10,000 or $25,000. Nominated school districts then submit a grant application that outlines how they would use the funds to enhance their students’ STEM?education.

From there, a panel of qualified teachers review the applications and narrow it down to the finalists. The program’s Farmer Advisory Council, consisting of approximately 30 farm leaders from across the country, then select the winning school districts, including USC.

For each winning school, teachers, students, and community members work together to make STEM?programs more engaging.