Illinois farmers help schools promote hands-on learning

Boy and girl with Microscopes, iPad and Laptop croppedFourteen Illinois school districts have received $170,000 in grants this year from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. The ­program partners with farmers to support rural public school districts with innovative approaches to teaching math and science.

The funding is utilized to prepare students for a wider range of career prospects in an increasingly technology-driven workforce. Increasing student engagement in math and science classes has been the focus of many Illinois school districts, and districts are looking to ­provide more hands-on learning opportunities through America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education and other grant opportunities.

Winning districts across the state have designed many innovative programs supported by the grant funds, ­including an Ambient Weather Station project, a ­hydroponics system and mini fish farm, and technology and science laboratory equipment upgrades.

The Grow Rural Education program starts with ­farmers, who can nominate a public school district in their community to apply for a grant of up to $25,000. This program is part of the America’s Farmers initiative, which partners with farmers to support education, service organizations and youth in rural America. Visit to see the full list of winners for this year. A sister program, America’s Farmers Grow Communities, is currently in its enrollment period. To sign up, visit