Today, USDA announced a project that expands advanced distance learning in five rural Georgia school districts. Schools in Quitman, Randolph-Clay, Colquitt, and Sumter Counties will connect to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta and beyond.
"This will exponentially expand effectiveness of educational programs and help ensure rural Georgia is workforce ready”, said Rural Development Georgia State Director, Quinton Robinson.
He continued, “collaborating and contracting with researchers, scientists, professors, and STEM industry leaders opens education to resources and expertise outside of the classroom, school, or district."
Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is partnering with the school districts to build a STEM distance learning infrastructure that can provide STEM education and outreach. First-graders will learn about STEM through monthly storytelling sessions and high school students will be able to dig deep into STEM topics by connecting with professors and scientists during courses. Educators delivering the program in the rural schools also collaborate with outside STEM researchers, scientists, professors and industry leaders. STEM@GTRI’s focus is to engage, inspire, and impact student success and achievement in STEM fields and to provide teachers with the professional development needed to enhance their schools’ curricula.
The $99,900 USDA Rural Development Community Facilities grant will be used to purchase a mobile video conferencing system used between sites among the 5 participating school districts. Each of the school districts also recently upgraded switches, filters, and necessary internet safety firewalls with funding from the Georgia Department of Education's Formula Technology Support Digital Learning Bond.
Today’s saturation of technology in most career fields means that all students — not just those pursuing a STEM profession — will require a foundation in STEM to be productive members of the workforce. Since FY 2013, USDA Rural Development in Georgia has awarded 10 grants totaling $501,500 to support Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. These grants to educational institutions are helping finance projects that give rural Georgian’s a competitive advantage in the job market.
USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Programs provide loans, grant and loan guarantees for essential community facilities in rural areas. Priority is given to health care, education and public safety projects. Eligible applicants are Public bodies, Community-based non-profit corporations and Federally-recognized Tribes. Contact the Georgia Rural Development Community Programs Division at (706) 546-2171 for more information.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.