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FPS Ag Department receives Federal grant

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 2nd, 2012

Photo 1: Duncan Antoine and Eli Lenning, two members of Mr. Christiansenís Intro to AFNR class are using the Labquest device and the attached current and voltage sensors to test the wattage produced from the solar panel. Photo 2: Anthony Bakkedahl and Madison Otto, two members of Mr. Christiansenís Intro to AFNR class are using the Labquest device along with the attached CO2 sensor to test the rate of CO2 given off from a leaf. Photo 3: Kenny Lloyd a student in Mr. Christiansenís Intro to AFNR class views the difference between plant and an animal cell with one of the new microscopes purchased by the grant.

By Billy Stitz

In late August the Flandreau public school was awarded the Federal Carl Perkins Reserve Grant for $26,225 in efforts to improve the agriculture curriculum at the school.

Josh Christiansen, the teacher of the Introduction to Ag, Food and Natural Resources class at FPS, found out about the Curriculum for Agriculture Science Education curriculum and training during the early months of the 2012. That is when he set the goal to implement this into his Agriculture Education classes. He knew that in order for this to be possible he was going to need some serious money.

In April, he applied for two grants Ė the first was through Monsanta, which he did not receive but heard about the Carl Perkins Grant and knew that that would still be an option. He spent about 10-12 hours filling out applications in order to apply for the two grants. With the help of some specialist at the SD Department of Education, Christiansen got word that he and FPS had been awarded the grant.

The grant money has gone to many different areas - the first included a training session that Christiansen had to take part in at the University of Missouri in order to be certified to teach this curriculum. Christiansen and FPS are just one of three instructors/schools in the entire state of South Dakota to be certified for this curriculum.

Then came the shopping. A major part of the new curriculum is using a piece of equipment called the Vernier Labquest. The Labquest is a small device, similar to a car GPS, which is used as the base for all information gathering. It allows kids to test soil, water, air quality and much more all in one device.

The remaining funds have gone to ordering more equipment that not only the Ag department will benefit from but all of FPS. New microscopes and other lab equipment were ordered for the kids along with some organizational equipment to try and keep everything in order since their will be so much more information to be taught and learned.

How do these things benefit the school and the students? Well the largest financial benefit according to Christiansen is that the Ag program has some much needed equipment improvements that the taxpayers in Moody County did not have to pay for out of their pockets. It also allows kids a new way to look at science. It gives the kids a hands on learning experience that they would not otherwise get if the school had not have adopted this curriculum.

Christiansen hopes that the new lab equipment will make students appreciate science more. He is sure that with all of the new soil moisture testing, various waters tests and air quality tests, the kids will be better prepared for life after high school, especially the kids in the veterinary medicine, human medicine, agronomy, and business.

As all of the equipment has filed into the school over the past couple of weeks, it seems as though the students are enjoying doing some new things and allowing themselves to broaden their horizons to a special curriculum that not many kids are able to take advantage of.

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