Foundation awards grants totaling $34,165 toward ag education

South Dakota Agricultural Foundation
Farm Forum

PIERRE — The South Dakota Agricultural Foundation awarded 23 grants totaling $34,165 as part of their goal to support youth ag education and invest in the future of agriculture.

A year ago, a local non-profit organization, Ground Works – Midwest (GWM), stepped up where then-recently dissolved South Dakota Ag in the Classroom (SDAITC) left off. At that point, SDAITC had been around for over 30 years, but couldn’t continue due to limited financial support.

The local chapter of Ag in the Classroom was a perfect program for Sioux Falls-based GWM to adopt. The organization was already partnering with elementary and middle schools in providing innovative educational resources, such as the teaching garden programs.

In their second year of ‘South Dakota Ag in the Classroom,’ Ground Works – Midwest is among the South Dakota Agricultural Foundation’s Ag Innovators (AI) Youth Education grant awardees. This grant program, which was started last year, encourages the development of creative solutions within agriculture-related innovation and leadership programs for youth.

“This grant award will help launch an interactive, digital, pilot program titled South Dakota Roadtrip: Exploring South Dakota’s Agriculture and History. Currently, we have 42 classrooms (equaling more than 1,000 students) in 10 school districts trying out the ag and history materials developed that coincide with 22 South Dakota cities and towns across the state. Each location will discuss the historical significance and the agriculture highlight of that area,” said Cindy Heidelberger-Larson, associate director of Ground Works – Midwest.

“It is important that every kid can see themselves as part of the South Dakota ag story. While a student may not have grown up on the farm, that is not to say the next cool app that runs the combine can’t come from the 4th grade Minecraft gamer. Opening up the minds of students, inspiring hope, and growing their potential leads the way for ag innovation. There is not one aspect of ag innovation to highlight when the potential existing in our students, now and in the future, has yet to be tapped. Theirs is a limitless opportunity, ripe for harvest,” she said.

The grants program by the foundation awarded:

• 16 Building Rural Communities (BRC) grants, totaling $9,165.

• Seven Ag Innovators (AI) Youth Education grants, totaling $25,000.