During a presentation at halftime at the Mexico High School Bulldogs final home football game of the regular season, Monsanto representatives, Ashley Bergthold and Scott Shannon awarded the Mexico Public School District a $25,000 grant through America's Farmers Grow Rural Education, a program that helps farmers support their local rural public school districts.

The grant, written by Rebecca Moppin-Bennett, principal at McMillan Elementary School, is being used to expand the combined curriculum content in science, technology and math in the primary classrooms targeting kindergarten through second grade. More than 500 elementary students throughout the district will use Project Lead the Way modules to create opportunities to design, build, test and reflect on their discoveries with their peers, increasing their abilities to problem solve. "Each grade level will be given Lead The Way modules and one refill kit," said Moppin-Bennett.

Part of the funds were used to purchase iPads for the students' use and for teacher training. "Each elementary school will receive 10 new iPads," said Moppin-Bennett.

America's Farmers Grow Rural Education offers farmers the opportunity to nominate rural public school districts to compete for a merit-based grant of $10,000 and $25,000. "Moppin-Bennett chose to go for the $25,000 grant. She said she was surprised and happy to receive the grant for the district. "There are fewer $25,000 grants," she added. With the grant, the schools can help the young students have a more solid education and help them compete with global competition instead of local competition, according to Moppin-Bennett. "It levels the playing field for the students," she added.

The program was established in 2011 and awards a total of $2.3 million in grants each year. After a school district receives its first nomination, the Monsanto Fund will notify them and encourage them to design a project for the grant that enhances math and/or science education in their district. School districts are responsible for submitting a grant application. Once all of the school district applications are submitted, a panel of math and science teachers from ineligible counties reviews each application and selects finalists. An advisory council composed of farmer-leaders then reviews and selects the winning grant application from a pool of finalists. Grant applications are judged based on the merit of the application, need and community support. Barbara Wilson from Mexico, has served on the farmer advisory council for the past three years. " It's very exciting to see the Mexico School District receive a $25,000 grant this year. As a farmer, it is gratifying to know that we as farmers can help students in our community reach their potential by enhancing their learning opportunities."

This is the first time Moppin-Bennett has applied for the grant. She applied in March of this year and was notified in August that she won the grant. She plans to apply for more grants including the $10,000 grant from Monsanto.