The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 7, 2012

Danville High wins $25G ag grant

By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item

— DANVILLE — Agricultural company Monsanto has awarded Danville High School a $25,000 grant to enhance its agriculture curriculum.

“We’re the only school in Pennsylvania to get the $25,000,” said Kelly Smith-Wells, an agriculture teacher at the school.

Four other Pennsylvania schools won $10,000 grants, she said. Danville was one of 19 finalists in the state.

Monsanto awarded grants to schools across the United States as part of its America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program. Nominations for the grant money had to come from local farmers. After Danville received that approval, the district’s grant proposal was written by Smith-Wells and Christine Badger, a district substitute teacher.

The grant will be used to buy equipment to “support the CASE curriculum,” Smith-Wells said. CASE, or Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education, is an initiative begun by the National Council for Agricultural Education. The curriculum is designed to be an agricultural version of the federal STEM initiative, which emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math.

In the agricultural industry today, “They are keeping up with technology, and we need to keep up with them,” Smith-Wells said. “This CASE curriculum helps us to do that.”

Some of the equipment that will be bought with the grant money will be on display at the agriculture department’s Fall Harvest Festival, to be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at the school.

Danville’s CASE curriculum will be called PRAISE, or Providing Research through Agricultural Initiatives and Science Education. The program “incorporates more technology into it … not just computer technology,” but devices such as sensors that can be used by students to collect data in farm fields, Smith-Wells said. “We are using up-to date equipment and technology to teach problem-solving of real-world issues,” she said.

Agriculture today is “so much more” than tractors and plows, she said. “It is a science, it absolutely is a science.”