The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation was awarded a two-year Expanded Learning Opportunity Grant funded by proceeds of the Nebraska Lottery and approved by the Nebraska State Board of Education. The nearly $89,000 grant will provide hands-on enrichment activities and services delivered by after-school and summer programs across Nebraska until June 2024.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has partnered with the Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska Game & Parks, Midwest Dairy Association, History Nebraska and the Nebraska Tourism Commission on the project. The project titled “Walk to Unlock Nebraska (W2UN)” will provide Community Learning Centers across Nebraska the opportunity to engage in both a physical activity program and STEAM- (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) focused educational materials.
“The partnership lends a wealth of knowledge, expertise and resources to create a great experience for students and reach a wider audience. We are excited to collaborate with each of these groups,” said Courtney Shreve, director of outreach education for the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.
The goal of the program is to increase access to physical activity opportunities and access to historical, agricultural and STEAM curriculum. Each participating Community Learning Center will utilize the Walk to Unlock Nebraska program to track the miles students walk on an interactive map. Four different trails with multiple stops will lead participants on a virtual walk across the state. Each stop on the map will provide an extended learning opportunity in the form of a video, book, poster or curriculum piece to draw connections to the information students are learning in their daily classrooms.
“Agriculture is a natural fit for this project. With approximately 91% of Nebraska’s land used for agriculture, this project will provide an opportunity for students to walk virtually across the state and see crops, livestock and agribusinesses through videos, virtual field trips and curriculum,” said Shreve.
The Walk to Unlock Nebraska project will include four virtual trails: Northern, Central, Southern and North/South, and will span across the state. Each trail includes virtual checkpoints where the students will learn about the location and complete a lesson and activity about the location. Each location can focus on the subjects of history, agriculture and nature.
The project began as a pilot on June 3 with 53 students in an O’Neill summer camp. These students will be virtually walking the Northern trail that includes 28 stops. One of these stops is in Elsmere where they will read a letter from Charlie, a young ranch kid. In Charlie’s letter he describes that he works on his family’s beef cattle ranch where they raise beef cattle for the other kids and their families to eat. He explains how his family takes care of the cattle along with what the cattle eat and drink. He also explains how many cattle live in Nebraska and how there are more cattle than people in the state.
Along with the letter, the students have a lesson and activity that they can do for the checkpoint. The lesson aligns with the Language Arts standards that the Department of Education sets and includes a building-a-burger activity.
The goal of the project is for students (K-8), using robust physical activity, to virtually walk across Nebraska while stopping at checkpoints to learn about the state. The program can be used by after-school programs and summer camps, as well as a fun activity for families to do together. This project will be piloted over the course of two years in programs in O’Neill, Schuyler, Broken Bow, Bayard, Gordon-Rushville, Cozad and Scottsbluff.