The Lonedell R-XIV School District has received a $23,200 grant from Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, to be used for hands-on science curriculum for the district.

The school district serves more than 300 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Lonedell’s administration plans to use the grant to create a scientific pathway observatory, named the Monsanto Science Outdoor Observatory, where students as well as members of the community can develop a better understanding and appreciation of natural resources such as hummingbirds, butterflies, insects and other forms of nature.

“Lonedell is thrilled to receive this grant funding from Monsanto,” Principal Jen Ulrich said. “It is going to provide a wonderful resource for both our school and community.

“With this grant we’ll finally be able to develop an outdoor science classroom for our students, thus extending our science curriculum and hands-on learning, and the area will also serve as a walking trail for our rural community.”

In addition to the outdoor science classroom, the observatory will provide local families and the community a safe and educational place that promotes scientific inquiry, including a garden that will attract insects and hummingbirds and a wooded area. The observatory is slated to be completed by the middle of the 2012 – 2013 school year.

“The short-term outcome of this project will be the instant availability for students and community to explore nature within the safe confines of the school grounds, said Sue Emmons, special programs coordinator for the local district. “Families can enjoy observing birds,  insects, and small animals in their own habitat sharing a lifelong appreciation of  learning.

“The longer term outcome is for all students, kindergarten through eighth grade, to actively use scientific inquiry to develop an ongoing desire for science and discovery. The goal is to broaden our students in the area of science by using hands-on activities to develop college and career-ready citizens.

“We thank Monsanto Fund for giving us this opportunity.”

According to the parent company, the grant is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund, which is focused on strengthening the St. Louis community where Monsanto Fund and Monsanto Company are headquartered. In 2011 alone, Monsanto Fund provided more than $5 million in community support to key St. Louis area organizations like the Lonedell school district.

“Providing students with a fun, hands-on way to learn is so important to getting them interested in science,” said Deborah Patterson, Monsanto Fund president. “Monsanto Fund is proud to support the Lonedell R-XIV School District and the outdoor classroom.”

The Monsanto Fund is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the farm communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work.