Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Monday, Feb. 23, five Kimball middle school students traveled to State Farm Insurance Corporate Headquarters and stood with two other student organizations to receive grant awards for service-learning projects. Kimball Community Education and Building Leadership Together (BLT), a school service Lions Club, received a $25,000 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board for their Eco-Education Mission. The main goal of the Eco-Education Mission is to reduce the carbon footprint of Kimball Schools and community. Tara Matthiesen, a ninth-grade active member and past president in the Kimball BLT Club is very "volunteer-centered" and had this to share about receiving the grant, "I hope to help lower our school's (environmental) footprint, make the school go green, raise awareness and help people realize they should really take care of things." BLT currently has about 30 students that will work on the bulk of the project. Other student groups, classrooms and their teachers will have the opportunity to be involved with the mission. The high school physics class, taught by Dennis Abernathy, will take on one of the first projects, a We Power Dance. The physics students will calculate the wattage needed to power disc jockey equipment and design a generator to produce electricity using stationary bikes, "pedal power." Other projects include recycling events, a school store and T-shirt business, guest speakers, and special events. "The students plan to work with the schools and the city to become more environmental friendly," said Kris O'Brien, Kimball's Community Education Director and advisor of BLT Leo Club. "The students are going to initiate change through a variety of different projects under that mission." Students are excited about the grant and the projects. "I feel real good. It helps us with our fund-raising and our projects we are going to be doing," ninth-grader Mitch Hurrle said of the $25,000 grant." Hurrle said he hopes the school and community will become better places to live when the students finish their projects. "I think I'll learn. I'll help my family and friends do better so we can have a better school. That's what I want," Hurrle said. Along with the school-year projects, this grant money makes it possible for Kimball middle school students to participate in the Community Education Summer of Service (SOS) Program. This is a three-week camp open to any student in grades 5-8. This summer it will be filled with educational activities, leadership development, and field trips that directly relate to reducing the impact we have on our world and how we can become more environmentally responsible. Over the three-week camp students will determine the school's carbon footprint by developing a test, and then collect and measure the data. "The next step will be to brainstorm ideas to reduce the carbon footprint, and present their ideas to city officials, school board members, and local leaders." O'Brien said. What they come up with during SOS will start taking shape when school starts again in the fall. The oversized State Farm grant check is proudly displayed in the Jr. High Commons area at Kimball Area High School. The BLT Group invites fellow students and community members to visit the school and take a look at the check that represents the funding behind a movement they are excited and passionate about.