The agricultural department at the Manawa School District has received a $500 grant from the Pioneer Hi-Bred Foundation. The grant money will be used to launch a “Rise Up” Leadership program.
“I saw that this organization was giving out grants and it was something I was familiar with so I applied for it,” said Sandra Cordes, agricultural teacher and FFA advisor at Little Wolf High School. “It was food based but they wanted you to be able to make improvements in sustainability in food in your community. What I applied for was a grant to train students in the process of service learning so that they would learn to be better volunteers in the community but have an educational component to it.”
Cordes said the grant will have and “end goal” of benefitting the Manawa Area Community Food Pantry. The other goal is to train students to be better leaders and to make sure they understand the steps in planning, organizing and implementing the program.
“We are going to use that $500 to train the kids on how to do a food drive and how to be involved in their community,” Cordes said. “We are going to call the program, Rise Up and we have different components of it to help them rise up in the community and learn how to be valuable members.”
Initiatives will be provided to the students that will allow them to learn leadership skills and help them become better communicators. They will also receive problem-solving training.
Cordes said the students will learn about the different aspects of publicity that goes into organizing a food drive, as well as finding out what the needs of the community are.
“The will learn if there is a certain time of year that the food pantry needs more help or if there is a special area that we aren’t fulfilling,” Cordes said. “They are going to research poverty and find out all the different steps of how that affects our community.”
The Rise Up program will be part of in class study, as well as extracurricular activities.
“We’ll utilize it through my FFA program and then also through the courses at school,” Cordes said. “And we are going to ask other organizations in our school to be partners with us, such as the student council.”
One of the school courses taking part will be the leadership class Cordes teaches. There are 28 students in that class and they will be the main planning component.
“I’ll have them go through the steps, there are six steps to service learning. We’ll have them go through and figure out what their goals are and then match those needs to it,” Cordes said. “Last year we did four food drives and I hope through their efforts we would double that this year. We need to see what the kids want to do.
“Kids can incorporate service learning with academics so kids know that helping out is part of our school culture and we are part of the community.”
Cordes said this is a great opportunity for the student to become involved and make a difference.
“We are real grateful that Pioneer has invested in our community and we think it is a wonderful opportunity for the kids to realize what a powerful impact they can have and that you can empower change,” Cordes said.