Kansas Chapter announces 2014-15 grants to educators

Kansas Chapter announces 2014-15 grants to educators
By Robert F. Sommer

Frontier Trail Junior High School received a $1,000 Sierra Club-Kansas Chapter Education Grant for water testing and monitoring. Gary Blasi, Becky Widler, Candace Stewart (grant recipient), and Dr. Rod Smith (Principal) (l to r).

Frontier Trail Junior High School received a $1,000 Sierra Club-Kansas Chapter Education Grant for water testing and monitoring. Gary Blasi, Becky Widler, Candace Stewart (grant recipient), and Dr. Rod Smith (Principal) (l to r).

The Sierra Club’s Kansas Chapter has announced its 2014-15 teaching grants. Now in its second year, the Sierra Club Environmental Grants for Kansas Primary and Secondary Educators program was uniquely created by the Kansas Chapter. This is the first grant program of its kind in the Sierra Club. These grants support the efforts of teachers who are educating students about climate change and exploring solutions to the immense challenges it poses.

 The Kansas Chapter’s Bob Sommer (left) presents a check for $1,000 to Shawnee Mission West High School for a sustainable agriculture project. Pictured with Bob are (l-r) grant recipient Doug Moles, Linda Carlson (Science Department Chair), and Dr. Julie Crain (Principal).

The Kansas Chapter’s Bob Sommer (left) presents a check for $1,000 to Shawnee Mission West High School for a sustainable agriculture project. Pictured with Bob are (l-r) grant recipient Doug Moles, Linda Carlson (Science Department Chair), and Dr. Julie Crain (Principal).

This year’s grant recipients are Candace Stewart (Frontier Trail Middle School, Olathe School District), Doug Moles (Shawnee Mission West High School, Shawnee Mission School District), and Kristan Langton (Mill Creek Middle School, Desoto School District).

Along with her team in the Science Department at Frontier Trail Middle School, Candace Stewart will use her grant to purchase water testing equipment.

“We’re very excited to get this,” Stewart said. “The money is going to be used toward funding our testing kits so we can go to nearby creeks and test the water quality and compare that with what our water quality has been over the years and how the climate has changed and see if there’s any correlation between the two.”

Kristan Langton is also engaged in water testing. She plans to lead her sixth grade classes at Mill Creek Middle School in studying the water in the creek behind their school.

“My love for the outdoors began at a young age,” Langton wrote in her grant application. “When my family was camping, my friends were going to Disney World. It took me a while to realize the gift of those camping trips. They instilled in me a passion, which can so wonderfully lead to a cause.”

Chemistry teacher Doug Moles sponsors the Environmental Club at Shawnee Mission West High School. He has undertaken a multi-year project in sustainable agriculture.

“We’re going to put a high tunnel in the courtyard of our school,” Moles said, “and start teaching the kids about sustainable agriculture, using our high tunnel to grow year-round vegetables and other produce in our courtyard.”

Moles hopes to see fruit and vegetables from the school’s courtyard served to students and staff in the cafeteria.

This year’s Education Grants Committee included Gary Anderson, Carol Barta, Yvonne Cather, Dave Kirkbride, Craig Lubow, Scott Smith, Craig Wolfe, and Bob Sommer (Chair).

Note: As of this writing the Committee had not finalized a decision on one additional application. Details about next year’s grant program will be announced in the fall.

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