ADAMS — Belleville Henderson Central School District students will soon benefit from an enhanced STEM curriculum thanks to a $15,000 grant awarded to the district from the Bayer Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Program.
The grant will be used to purchase a portable sawmill and safety equipment for use by middle and high school students as part of the district’s agriculture and technology curriculum.
This program will have a heavy emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math as students determine tree varieties, calculate board feet, mill lumber and design their own projects, while keeping safety at the forefront. This will provide students with the opportunities to try out new hobbies, learn career skills and explore college opportunities.
The overall objectives of the project are to have students understand the process a tree goes through in order to become lumber, be able to apply safety concepts to effectively run a sawmill in order to mill their own lumber, be able to apply science concepts related to forestry, be able to apply math concepts related to forestry and to expose students to potential careers and develop skills related to forestry, according to the district.
“In Jefferson County, there are nine state forests, totaling over fifteen thousand acres. It is important to expose students to careers in these areas, so they know what opportunities are available to them,” Tedra Bean, district agriculture instructor, said in a statement. “It is important to give students hands-on experiences in this field in order to prepare them for the workforce. Many students may go on to pursue higher education ... this sawmill will be a great opportunity to give students experience for directly entering the workforce.”
The agriculture and technology departments at Belleville Henderson Central School will work together ito implement the project and collaborate with other teachers. The district’s Agriculture Program is the oldest continuously running educational program of the sort in the United States.
To qualify for a Grow Rural Education grant, farmers nominate a public school district to compete for a merit-based $15,000 grant. Nominated school districts submit a grant application describing their STEM-focused project, and the Grow Rural Education’s Farmer Advisory Council, consisting of a panel of math and science teachers and about 30 farmer leaders from across the country, review the finalist applications and then select the winning school districts.
“We are thrilled to receive the $15,000 grant from the Bayer Fund,” said Jane A. Collins, district superintendent. “Our students, staff and community value STEM education. We have a deep-seated background in agriculture and living and working along Lake Ontario. One of the main goals of our Board of Education is encouraging each student’s development of their natural skills and guide them to excel in a vocational trade, academics, or both. We look forward to incorporating these educational enhancements into their curriculums.”
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. Farmers are also encouraged to participate in Bayer Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow Communities program, which is accepting farmer enrollments through Nov. 1.