A Project with a Larger Impact

Tornados are a complex and devastating weather phenomena. And predicting them can be even more complicated.

In rural Illinois — an area of high tornadic activity — Dongola Unit School District #66 is raising the next generation of weather forecasters with a $25,000 Grow Rural Education grant.

Students Experience Meteorology Firsthand

The school district used the Grow Rural Education grant, sponsored by the Bayer Fund, to purchase WeatherBug, a weather forecasting station. This station will link Dongola to the largest weather and climate network in the world and enable K-12 students to track weather patterns, gain enhanced classroom learning and help the community prepare for hazardous weather. As Dongola has suffered violent storms (and is likely to experience them in the future), community weather safety is key to the project.

An especially important aspect of the project — and one goal of the America’s Farmers programs — is to provides a useful, engaging and age-appropriate STEM curriculum for students K-12. Students from kindergarten through third grade report the weather on the announcements. Middle school students prepare a community shelter with supplies for weather emergencies. High school math students present complex statistical analysis with the data. This data has been used as inspiration in the students’ weather-related art projects and is used to plan the marching band season.

Grow Rural Education is Shaping STEM Curriculum

The interdisciplinary functionality of the project, paired with the asset it provides to growing community weather safety, makes Dongola’s WeatherBug project a success story. One that would not have been possible without the support and nomination of local farmers.

Grow Rural Education awards $2.3 million in STEM grants to public schools every year, from enhancing hearing and visually impaired students’ learning to providing new labs and resources in STEM classes. These grants engage students across the country with their education, promote STEM learning, and improve rural education as a whole. All three of these goals were met in Dongola, and your local public school district could be next. Nominate your school district for the chance to receive $10,000 or $25,000 rural education grants, and shape local students’ lives for the better.