WCS farm finalist

Local farmers have joined together to nominate Wapakoneta City Schools for a rural education grant.

The district was selected as one of 22 finalists from Ohio for as much as $25,000 from the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant from the Monsanto Fund, a philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Co.

Wapakoneta City Schools’ application was strengthened with community support offered by numerous farmer nominations, according to to those who selected grant finalists.

“Someone nominated us and then 30 other farmers went online and supported us with multiple nominations,” said Julie Miars Golden, director of instruction for the district. “We are so happy with our community, which is so strong in the agricultural world, and our farmers, who really support each other and the schools, I can’t believe how invested they are in our schools. I am so, so proud to be able to do this in a community such as ours.”

School officials are expecting to receive notice within 30 days of whether or not they they have been awarded any grant funding. If received, the funding is to be applied to support reading and math with a technology component.

“It would be a great boom for us,” Miars Golden said.

She said the technology funding fits in perfectly with how farmers are advancing with what they do.

If awarded the grant, Miars Golden said the district plans to use the money to purchase iPads which could be moved between classrooms for use as needed. They would be geared toward middle school students, as they prepare for high school.

“It’s one more tool in our little bag of tricks to grab kids and allow them to learn more at their own level and pace and to make it more interesting,” Miars Golden said. “We want to get everyone on a level playing field going into high school.”

Monsanto Fund President Deborah Patterson said they received many outstanding applications from rural school districts across the country.

“The finalists truly went above and beyond what was expected and stand out as top tier choices,” Patterson said.

More than 61,000 farmers shared their passion for rural education by nominating more than half the eligible school districts. Finalist schools were chosen for their program ideas and funding needs.

The grant review process includes an online application scoring system based on merit, need and community support; a review by science and math teachers from ineligible school districts; and a farmer advisory council.

With finalists chosen, the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council, a group of 26 farm leaders from across the country, are to select the winning grant applications. In 2012, the Monsanto Fund plans to award nearly $2.3 million to eligible school districts in 39 states across the country.

America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant is meant to help farmers positively impact their communities and support local rural school districts. It is part of the Monsanto Fund’s overall effort to support rural education and communities.