South Dakota students improve through Monsanto Fund

Farm Forum

The Wolsey Wessington School District has utilized a grant from the Monsanto Fund to conduct its own research and develop technical skills in math and science.

Last year, the school district received a $10,000 grant through America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. The Monsanto Fund strives to meet the critical needs of rural communities by investing in local projects focused on K-12 education, hunger and nutrition, and first responders.

With the funding, the school district decided to conduct research on tomato plants. The high school biology class observed the plants as they grew with different fertilizers and lighting to see if the variables had any impact on the tomatoes. The eighth grade math students solved math problems and equations from the data collected by the high school students.

“The students measured pH levels, temperature, moisture and CO2 of the soil with technology we purchased with the grant,” said Caroline McGillvrey, technical coordinator at Wolsey-Wessington. “They did find differences in the tomato plants, and they presented their findings at the Health Fair on May 9.”

In addition to presenting their research at the Health Fair, the students also sold the tomato plants to raise money for the program.

“All proceeds will feed back into the program for next year,” said McGillvrey. “We plan to do the same kind of research, but with different variables or a different type of plant.”

The students at Wolsey Wessington also have created two blogs on the school’s web site where members of the community can follow their process and read their thoughts and evaluations. Please visit the school’s web site at and click the “Advanced Biology Blog” or the “8th Grade Math Blog” to learn more about the program.

2013 finalists named

The Monsanto Fund announces this year’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education finalists. For the past month, a panel of educators reviewed applications and sent the strongest submissions for consideration by the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council.

The Advisory Council, comprised of farmer-leaders with a vested interest in both agriculture and education, will select the winning grant applications from this pool of finalists.

South Dakota school districts in the running for a grant of up to $25,000 in this area are Hitchcock-Tulare, Wessington Springs and Miller. To learn more about either program, please visit

* Freeman School District 33-1

Hutchinson County Freeman, SD

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* Hamlin School District 28-3

Hamlin County Hayti, SD

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* Kimball School District

Brule County Kimball, SD

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* Leola School District

Mcpherson County Leola, SD

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* Miller School District 29-4

Hand County Miller, SD

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* Parkston School District 33-3

Hutchinson County Parkston, SD

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* Sioux Valley School District 05-5

Brookings County Volga, SD

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