- Last Updated on January 6, 2012
- Written by Community Foundation of the Ozarks
The Community Foundation of the Ozarks established the Rural Schools Partnership (RSP) in 2009 with the intent to increased school-centered philanthropy, recruit outstanding rural teachers, and promote place-based education. True to form, RSP has awarded more than $200,000 in place-based funding since its inception, and its latest grant round is yet another example of teacher-student innovation.
The Rural Schools Partnership has awarded $9,964 in Student Conservation grants to six southern Missouri school districts for student-led environmental projects ranging from the building and maintenance of outdoor classrooms in Ozark to the expansion of a community recycling program in Gainesville. The Student Conservation grants are funded through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks' (CFO) Rural Schools Conservation Fund and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation Grant Fund. Encouraging collaboration between entities like RSP and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation is a key tenet of The Rural School and Community Trust and its new Center for Midwestern Initiatives.
Recipient districts are partners of the CFO's Rural Schools Partnership, which focuses on sustaining rural schools as anchors of their communities.
"The conservation/environmental grants are selected on the basis of student involvement and community impact," said Julie Leeth, Rural Schools Coordinator and Executive Vice President of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. "All of the selected projects will enhance the education of the involved students and at the same time better the community at large, which is the essence of place-based education."
Student Conservation grants were awarded to the following student-led projects:
- $1,325 to Ozark Upper Elementary School for maintenance of the campus's outdoor classrooms and to build a network of trails between them, as well as the completion of a Native Missouri Plant Garden.
- $1,573 to Stockton High School's Stockton Teen Empowerment Project (STEP) to help create, maintain and publicize a trail network within the community and in Stockton State Park. Benches made of recycled materials will be part of the project.
- $1,235 to Galena High School for a collaborative effort to create a small food plot on vacant land, as well as utilization cages and trail cameras, that will allow students to study and observe local wildlife.
- $1,848 to the Hartville R-II School District to help transform a vacant area on the school's campus into a native flower and vegetable garden, with a goal of eventually contributing to the district food service's Garden to School program.
- $1,983 to the Ozark County Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) for expansion of the group's citywide recycling program in Gainesville. Funds will be used to purchase more receptacles to place in school and public facilities, as well as extra bags and plastic liners.
- $2,000 to Willow Springs Elementary School to help improve the district's outdoor classroom, including a sand sensory box for science classes, picnic tables, and the planting of a fruit orchard for fourth graders, with produce eventually being sold at community events. (The Ozark County Youth Empowerment Project and Stockton Teen Empowerment Project are two of 35 chapters of the CFO's Youth Empowerment Project, which encourages youth philanthropy through education, service learning, grantmaking and fundraising.)