by Kenni Bores, Ag Correspondent – Auburndale High School was a recent winner of the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant funded by the Monsanto Foundation. This $25,000 grant will be used to build a renewable energy lab in the Marleen Knutson School Forest Learning Center.
With the grant money, the school will be working with the Mid-State Technical College renewable energy program. The plans include adding solar panels, a geothermal hot water heater, a small-scale wind turbine, and a bio mass pellet stove.
“The hope is that when everything is said and done, this will be a place for a beacon of environmental sustainability to answer questions the community might have when investing in something like this,” said Auburndale High School agriscience teacher Mark Cournoyer.
The school was one of six selected in Wisconsin for the grant. The extensive application process includes designing a project and filling out an application which is then reviewed by a panel of STEM teachers and farmers. Winning applications are selected on the merit of the application, need of the project, and support within the community.
The high school, middle school, and elementary school STEM staff that work in the district will be working together to create curriculum to coincide with the new lab. The high school already offers an alternative energy class that is a transcripted credit class, meaning students that take the class are offered college credit upon successful completion. The lab will also be available for members of the community to see either during meetings that are held at the learning center or they could set up a time to see it.
The school will be working with Mid-State planning the new lab until January and then the install will begin in March with hopes to be finished in May of 2019. There will be an official unveiling of the new lab in May 2019 at the Marleen Knutson School Forest Learning Center.