Five Grants in Place Awards made to SD Rural Teachers

Posted on June 25, 2018

Paula Jensen
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South Dakota Grants in Place is a cooperative venture between the Rural Schools Collaborative and Dakota Resources. Grants in Place provides a modest grant to rural teachers so they can engage with their students and community in place-based learning.

The Grants in Place program was implemented in South Dakota by Dakota Resources to connect rural teachers and students to their community through local projects. “Building the connections between rural schools and communities will help us ‘Get Better Together’”, says Mike Knutson, Dakota Resources Learning Network Director.

Jim Beddow, former President of Dakota Wesleyan University and Board Chair for the Rural Schools Collaborative stated, “We believe that place-based education gives meaning to learning, strengthens the bonds between school and community, and instills pride in the cultures and histories of rural places and small towns.”

In South Dakota, funding for five Grants in Place awards was provided by Dakota Resources, Jim Beddow and Mike Knutson with matching support from the Rural Schools Collaborative. The following award-winning projects have a community and/or economic development focus.

  1. Prairie Roots–A Community Heritage Project: $1,000 to Lynelle Yoder Hofer of the Freeman Academy to enable students in the 4th-6th grade class at Freeman Academy to use the resources located in the Heritage Hall Museum and Archives in Freeman to research the Native Americans that lived in this area and the groups of people that settled here. Students will share their findings with peers in the 1st-3rd grade class, who will then use the findings to select foods with cultural relevance to the Native American and settler groups. Students will then draft presentations and will conduct a live wax museum to present their findings to the public.
  2. Rustic Acres in School Enterprise (RAISE): $950 to Cheryl Deestra of Chester Area Schools to establish a school-based 3-D printing “industry” that would bring people and generations together in the unique Hutterite Colony. Students will participate in a wide variety of STEM-based learning and experiential activities.
  3. Rooted in Possibility: Growing a Shared Community: $1,000 to Bailey Hurlbert-Coats of Doland School District to build at least six raised garden planters. Students will restore the existing greenhouse, leveraging what currently exists: a core principle of place-based education and sustainability. Funds will be used for the construction and restoration expenses.
  4. Senior Center Kinder’s Enter: $1,000 to Tammy Luce of Wolsey-Wessington School to support a project where the main objective is to connect Wolsey and Wessington’s older generation with its youngest generation. This would include 30 kindergartners visiting the local senior center two times a month for 9 months with a program at the end of the year celebrating their time together. When the student’s visit they will be doing crafts, planting flowers, learning stories of what was like when they were young. They also will teach the people at the center how to use new technology.
  5. Crosswalks for Better Walks in Wall: $600 to David Ermish of Wall High School to support this unique project, which was the brainchild of student leader Mercede Hess. Decorative crosswalks will be developed and created in areas where pedestrian safety is a concern in the historic town of Wall. The crosswalk locations will be based on the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SD DOT) Transportation Plan research and suggestions.

About Rural Schools Collaborative

The 2018-19 Grants in Place national program is a cooperative venture between the Rural Schools Collaborative, partner organizations, and committed donors. This year’s program will support 39 place-based or community-centered projects serving as many as 71 communities in 14 states. A total of 19 organizations and donors provided direct contributions. The combined efforts amounted to more than $139,000 in total funding to support place-based learning in rural schools. To find out more about Rural Schools Collaborative visit their website at

About Dakota Resources

Dakota Resources embraces building the capacity and confidence of rural communities and organizations through learning networks, long-term community coaching, and capital investments to CDFIs and development corporations in South Dakota. For more information, visit Dakota Resources is an equal opportunity organization.

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