The 2017 Eleanor Venture Travel Grant Recipient is Janet Benter of Mead Middle School!

The Education Foundation for the St. Vrain Valley (EFSVV) is pleased to announce that the 2017 Eleanor Venture Travel Grant recipient is Janet Benter. Every year, this grant is awarded to one or two teachers in honor of Eleanor Flanders, the Founder of EFSVV, with the hopes that the significant travel experience will be brought back to St. Vrain Valley Schools. Janet is a 7th and 8th grade Science and Health teacher at Mead Middle School. She will be using the $3,500 grant to travel to Rwanda over the summer where she will forge learning connections from Boulder County to Rwanda.     

Janet impressed the Eleanor Venture Travel Grant committee with her original and detailed proposal with a solid plan to bring her experiences back to the St. Vrain Valley School District. Her plan includes making friendships with Rwamanga Secondary School, a sister school to Mead Middle School, and coordinate video correspondence between the two schools.  Throughout her journey, she will make comparisons of resources and culture between Boulder County and areas of Rwanda and then weave these connections into SVVSD curriculum. One connection she outlines is that her Mead students will tour Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, CO and Janet will tour the Sowarthe Tea Plantation and Pfunda Tea Estate in Rwanda, which produces a Tukeri Black tea that Celestial Seasonings distributes. Mead students will analyze the different approaches to fertilization, harvesting, transport, and manufacturing of the two tea sites. Janet will also research parallel endangered species; such as the Townsend Big-eared Bat in Colorado and the Ruwezori Horshoe Bat in Rwanda. Other stops on her itinerary include a gorilla trek through Ankagera National Park, the Coproma Beekeeping Operative in Eastern Rwanda, and a visit to see her son who is serving in the Peace Corps as a teacher.

The EFSVV staff surprised Janet with the award during a Mead Middle School staff meeting. On receiving the grant, Janet has this to share: “…So many students high-fived me today (some that I don’t even teach in my classes)! I fielded many questions from kids, which was super fun. I’ve charged my students with doing a bit of research to let me know where I should go on their behalf. It is my privilege to be a part of such a unique cultural exchange. I’m excited to broaden my curriculum by providing my students with the information needed to understand our environmental challenges so that we can identify solutions. I look forward to my journey to Rwanda!  The Eleanor Venture is the opportunity of a lifetime!

Kaarina Demers, the 2016 Eleanor Venture Travel Grant Recipient served on the review committee and says the following of Janet’s upcoming journey: “How exciting for our students to have an opportunity to compare and contrast some of Boulder County’s endangered species with those of Rwanda.  We are both industrialized nations and how does that contribute to species endangerment, water and air quality. These are 21st century concerns for us.”

The Eleanor Venture Travel Grant selection process is always a difficult one. The Education Foundation receives many unique and deserving applications every year. EFSVV encourages all SVVSD teachers to apply and reapply. To learn more about the Eleanor Venture Travel Grant, go to efsvv.org/programs/eleanor-venture.