Bowling Green schools will use a grant to grow its STEM program.
The $15,000 will be used to return to use the former science greenhouse on the high school campus.
Bayer Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education earlier this year partnered with local farmers to nominate rural public school districts and award grants to enhance their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.
Through Grow Rural Education, Bayer Fund awarded a $15,000 grant to Bowling Green City School District.
The district will use the funds to renovate the district’s long idle greenhouse, which will enable high school students, through a Seed to STEM program, to investigate propagation of plants through the full life-cycle.
Once the greenhouse is renovated, it will be restocked and used for projects that focus on how hard it is to grow plants from seed, said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator.
They also will work on finding solutions while trying to grow plants, she added.
The district have partnered with the city parks to do propagation for plants that can be placed in the parks.
The greenhouse has not been used since heating and broken glass panes became an issue, Anderson said.
“It’s a disaster,” said biology teacher Josh Iler.
Everything that needs to be purchased to repair the structure will come from local businesses.
Anderson said the greenhouse has been there since the high school was built in 1963. When she taught science in that wing, the greenhouse was functional, she said.
Iler said the greenhouse is right next to his classroom and he will use it for his biology classes.
It has not been usable for more than 10 years, he said. He has been teaching at the high school for 15 years.
He remembers using the greenhouse for the botany class he took as a student, and said using it got him interested in growing things.
“It’ll be nice to get kids into that hobby again,” Iler said.
While botany is no longer taught, the school offers field biology and the typical biology classes.
Once construction is done this winter, he plans to prepare landscaping for the school courtyard which now includes the koi ponds.
“We should be able to do some greenhouse activities,” Iler said.
The greenhouse will be used by the high school science department; ag science has its own greenhouse, Anderson said.
She said it also may be used by middle school classes.
“There’s no reason why it couldn’t be used by any class or student who is interested in propagation,” she said.
“The goal is for it to be functional and someplace students can learn STEM skills through living organism," Anderson said. “It’s a tough skill.”
“It’s going to be really good to work with a different group together to experiment on different things,” Iler said.
The field biology class that uses the natural resources lab behind the high school can use it to grow plants to landscape the facility. Students growing plants for their science fair projects can use it, too, Anderson said.
She wrote the grant during quarantine and actually received a giant cardboard check.
Local farmers nominated the project for the grant.
Grow Rural Education grants have helped schools purchase an array of STEM-related materials, such as augmented-reality sandboxes, weather-forecasting and robotics equipment.
To qualify for a Grow Rural Education grant, farmers nominate a public school district to compete for a merit-based $15,000 grant. School districts that are nominated, then submit a grant application describing their STEM-focused project. Grow Rural Education’s Farmer Advisory Council, consisting of a panel of math and science teachers and approximately 30 farmer leaders from across the country, review the finalist applications and select the winning school districts.
Anderson said those who nominated the district would like to remain anonymous.
“Bayer Fund and the farmers we partner with feel incredibly passionate about Grow Rural Education because we’re investing in our children - who are the future - by enhancing STEM learning in rural public school districts,” said Al Mitchell, president, Bayer Fund. “We are always amazed by the incredible support of local farmers, as well as the countless ways Grow Rural Education brings teachers, students and people in the community together to set children up for success.”