Farmington schools well represented among winners of US Eagle Foundation enrichED grants

Esperanza Elementary School, Heights Middle School and Country Club Elementary School all receive $1,000

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
For the second year in a row, Esperanza Elementary School in Farmington has earned a $1,000 enrichED grant from the US Eagle Foundation. The money will allow the school to build a greenhouse.

FARMINGTON — For the third year in a row, the Farmington Municipal School District has come away a winner in a grant program funded by the US Eagle Foundation.

Esperanza Elementary School, Heights Middle School and Country Club Elementary School all received $1,000 grants through the foundation's enrichED grant program. It was the second year in a row Heights and Esperanza have been award recipients and the second time in three years that Country Club has been an award recipient.

A total of 10 $1,000 grants were awarded this year to schools in San Juan, Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Sandoval counties, where the US Eagle Federal Credit Union operates locations. The winners were selected from a pool of 62 applicants, 17 of which came from San Juan County.

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Nadine Buerger, the foundation's executive director, said program officials had hoped to see more applicants from San Juan County this year and were pleased when that turned out to be the case. The overall number of applications has fluctuated each year, with 111 being received in 2019, the program's inaugural year, but only 56 last year. This year's number represented a slight increase from that total.

The enrichED grant program is designed to support the state's public school teachers by providing successful applicants with $1,000 awards for educational resources and classroom activities. This year's application window took place from late August through early September.

Heights Middle School in Farmington will use a $1,000 grant from the US Eagle Foundation to launch a program that allows students to build solar-powered vehicles.

Buerger said the internal team at the foundation that was responsible for reviewing the applications and selecting the winners favored those who pushed the envelope.

"The programs that were chosen were really innovative," she said.

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She cited the project at Esperanza Elementary School as a good example of that, as the school's application indicates the grant money will be used to build a greenhouse for the school. According to the grant application, students will use the new facility to grow plant starters in the spring, then sell them to help cover the costs of field trips, school supplies and rewards for positive student behavior.

Buerger said the project drew the attention of the selection team for a couple of reasons.

"It just connected so many variables," she said, noting the sustainable nature of the project and its potential to reach a large percentage of the school's enrollment.

"That was one of the questions we considered – is it something that will benefit the whole school, as opposed to just 10 students?" she said.

Heights Middle School will use its grant to incorporate solar technology into a program that teaches students how the sun's power is converted into energy for lights, homes and vehicles. Participating students will conduct experiments based on solar panels, then create solar-powered vehicles designed to compete in a race. Those models will be demonstrated to neighboring schools, allowing that knowledge to be passed on.

Country Club Elementary School will use the money to purchase games and kits for its classrooms that promote the learning of science, technology, engineering and math skills. The materials are designed to encourage students to engage in hands-on challenges that help them understand concepts that will lead them to succeed in the future.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription.