What better way to celebrate Earth Day last month than to recognize projects that are environmentally friendly and to educate our elementary school youths. That's exactly what we did in northwest Missouri. The Missouri Rural Development (RD) staff partnered with the Senior Citizens Nursing Home District of Ray County and the Richmond Sunrise Elementary School for one celebration and with the City of Carrollton and Carrollton Elementary School for the second celebration.
In Richmond, Debra Berry, USDA Rural Development Area Specialist, talked with second graders in the Sunrise Elementary School about energy conservation and recycling and a poster contest was held for the students to demonstrate their creativity about the environment. The gym full of students, teachers and the principal, showed great knowledge and excitement about caring for the environment. When the top three poster winners were announced smiles lit up all the faces. One of the student winners whose father was present to see the award had to call her mother at work - what excitement!
The savings bonds ($100, $75, and $50) for the winners were provided and presented by the Administrator of the Shirkey Nursing Home, located across town and recipient of a $3 million RD Community Facility loan. Funds were used to complete energy efficient improvements to the nursing home. The antiquated and inefficient boiler heating system was replaced with energy efficient electric heating/cooling units. Insulation was added to the ceiling and old windows were replaced with new energy efficient windows. Our tour showed a remarkable transformation.
In the neighboring town of Carrollton, RD provided a $2,034,000 loan and grant investment for improvements to the city's wastewater treatment facilities. At the Carrollton Elementary School, Area Specialist, Shawna Barnes, presented a short education program to the second grade on water and sewer systems, focusing on how the students can conserve resources. She explained how little things like quick showers instead of taking a bath, and turning off the water while you are brushing your teeth, are ways everyone at any age can conserve the earth's resources. A poster contest was also held with the class and the City of Carrollton provided a $50 savings bond to the winner who was accompanied to the event by her teacher and her father.
At Rural Development, We are proud of these Earth Day investments in these communities. Equally important is the contribution of my staff to the awareness of the students to respect our resources and preserve them for future generations. What Great Fun!
To learn how USDA Rural Development programs can assist your community, click here.