Michigan High School Receives National Rural Tech Project Prize

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs 517-241-4395
Agency: Education

December 18, 2020

LANSING – Ravenna High School in west Michigan is one of five national finalists in the U.S. Department of Education’s Rural Tech Project, the Michigan Department of Education announced today.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the five finalist teams in the Rural Tech Project. The $600,000 challenge aims to advance technology education, support rural educators, and prepare students for the careers of today and tomorrow. Each team receives a $100,000 cash prize and progresses, to the second phase of the challenge.

“We are very proud of Ravenna High School for being a national finalist and advancing the use of technology in agriculture,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice.

Ravenna Public Schools Superintendent Greg Helmer explained that with many partnerships, Ravenna High School students will be creating an agricultural technology program that will teach transferable skills for robotics, health care, and computer informatics.

“The phase one portion of this program will focus on automated beekeeping, and students will work with robots and active beehives to remotely access data and manage hive health,” Helmer said. “The Grow Mainstreet Instructional Service provides skills that can be transferred to robotics, health care, and computer informatics. It will also raise awareness of bees as pollinators. The act of bee pollination is the infrastructure of farming. Our project is centered around beekeeping and we’re BUZZING with excitement!"

Joining in Ravenna High School’s efforts to develop and submit the Grow Main Street (GMS) Instructional Service were lead organizations representing the Mavin Project: Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD), Talent 2025, Michigan State University (MSU), Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP), MiSTEM Network, Mavin Global and multiple local businesses and community members. The Mavin Project is driven by a mission to deliver equity in education to all students and communities around the state and nation through free innovative and accessible digital solutions.

From January to July 2021, the five finalist teams will develop detailed program plans and build partnerships before programs launch. The Rural Tech Project will provide on-the-ground assistance, expert mentorship, and access to virtual resources as teams plan, run, and refine their programs for two academic years. Each finalist team will be supported by a community engagement manager, who will assist with on-the-ground set-up, implementation, and evaluation of the program.

During the summer of 2023, teams will document their outcomes and learnings in a final submission; a judging panel will then recommend one grand prize winner to receive an additional $100,000. The Rural Tech Project will compile insights from all finalist teams and share lessons learned as a resource for other communities.

Questions on the Ravenna High School Beekeeping Project can be directed to Superintendent Greg Helmer at 231-291-7203 or ghelmer@ravennaschools.org.