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STEM Grant

WINDSOR – Jeff Stalls, Director of Operations for Perdue Farms in Lewiston, announced here Dec. 10 that the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, the company’s charitable giving arm, has awarded a $15,000 grant to the Roanoke River Valley Educational Consortium (RRVEC).

The grant supports the development of after-school robotics teams in local elementary and middle schools.

Perdue provided a $15,000 grant to the Consortium in 2014.

The Arthur W. Perdue Foundation was established in 1957 by company founder Arthur W. Perdue and is funded through the estates of Arthur W. Perdue and Frank Perdue as part of the company’s belief in supporting the communities where and with whom they do business. The Foundation provides grants on behalf of Perdue Farms in communities where large numbers of their associates live and work.

“At Perdue, we have a long history of supporting educational initiatives through the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, and we applaud the great strides the Roanoke River Valley Education Consortium has made to develop innovative programs that result in students acquiring knowledge and life skills that open up exciting vistas of college and career opportunities,” Stalls said in presenting the grant. “The afterschool robotics teams have a proven record of exciting students about learning science, technology, engineering and math.

“We are so glad to continue Foundation funding to support the addition of new teams that were formed based on student interest in being on robotic teams,” Stalls added.

“Students who have struggled in math and science classes are suddenly programming robots to perform amazing tasks in a race against the clock,” said Dr. Sammie Campbell Parrish, Executive Director of the Roanoke River Valley Education Consortium, in explaining the program. “More importantly they are having a great time and have no idea that they are developing a passion for learning science and math.”

The robotics competition requires students to work as a team, solve complicated problems, present their ideas to business leaders and constantly seek ways to improve their robot design and performance.

“These are essential life skills that our leading employers tell us are critical for our students to have to be successful when they graduate,” Parrish continued.

“Business involvement in this program is critical,” said Elaine White, superintendent of Bertie County Schools. “Each team has a mentor with a technology background and a science or CTE teacher as the coach. This type of interaction will provide a rich experience for our students.”

“This program causes students to see useful ways to use classroom learning to solve real world problems,” said teacher Nancy Brittenham. “Many students find that student-led problem solving ignites a passion for learning science and math. That is critical for their success because the National Science Foundation tells us that 80 percent of all jobs being created require knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math.”

“We are deeply grateful for the contribution from the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation,” White explained, “We are actively seeking additional partnerships with industries from across the region. The insights from those collaborations are critical in preparing students from across this region with the knowledge and skills our major employers need.”

“We believe that programs like this are critical to attract companies with high paying, skilled jobs to want to locate in this region,” White said.