In early 2019, America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Bayer Fund, partnered with farmers across the country to nominate rural schools. The goal was to award STEM grants to these schools — more than $2.3 million in grants — to enhance their science, technology, engineering and math programs. Area farmers answered the call and Grow Rural Education has awarded Geary County Schools with a $25,000 grant.

This grant is expected to go to Westwood Elementary School to fund a greenhouse on the school grounds, which will be used to teach children hands-on science programs.

Westwood Elementary School is one of the many schools across the country that has benefited from the Grow Rural Education program, according to a press release sent out concerning the grant program. For each grant-winning school, teachers, students and, in many cases, community members develop plans to generate creative STEM programs that will prove more engaging than the traditional classroom lecture.

In the past, grants from this program have helped schools buy a variety of STEM-related materials, including augmented-reality sandboxes, and weather forecasting and robotics equipment.

“America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education is a unique program because farmers play an important role throughout the process, from nominating schools to selecting the grant winners,” Bayer Fund President Al Mitchell said. “With the incredible support of local farmers, countless grant-winning schools have shared with us how Grow Rural Education funds have made their STEM programs more engaging and, in several instances, positively impacted test scores.”

To qualify for a Grow Rural Education grant, farmers had to nominate a school or district for a merit-based grant of either $10,000 or $25,000.After being nominated, districts had to submit a grant application describing the STEM-focused project they hoped to use the funds for. Grow Rural Education’s Farmer Advisory Council, which consists of roughly 30 farming leaders from around the United States, reviewed the finalist applications and selected the winning schools and districts, including Westwood.

According to officials with Westwood Elementary School, the school hasn’t officially accepted the grant funds yet. Principal Kim Dressman chose to abstain from comment until after the funds were officially approved for her school’s use.

Grow Rural Education was founded in 2011 and since then has awarded more than $18 million to more than 1,000 schools in rural communities all around the United States. To view a complete list of winners or to learn more about the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, visit AmericasFarmers.com or follow along on Facebook at facebook.com/AmericasFarmers.

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