Stuhr Receives Grant from Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben for Education Programs

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- The Stuhr Museum in Grand Island said education is their mission, so they welcome many schools in every year for field trips. But paying for the trips isn't always easy.

The new grant for the Stuhr Museum is focused on bringing in more students, but not from area schools. This grant will bring in kids from urban schools in Lincoln and Omaha.

The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben split $5,000 between 6 state wide recipients of the 2014 Community Grand Program. The museum received $1,000 of that for the Heritage Activities for Today's Students (HATS) which brings Omaha and Lincoln students to Grand Island.

This grant will help pay for Brownell Elementary School to make the trip.

"We already fund several schools from Lincoln," said Pam Price, the Executive Director of the Stuhr Museum Foundation. "This is one that would be new to us and just for example, when we brought Belvedere here we spent $2,400 on the busses and $575 roughly on tuition. So it's an expensive trip and schools can't afford that so we do what we can to garner support."

The grant will pay for part of the busing. Other grants the museum receives will help pay for the rest.

This is the 2nd time Stuhr has received this grant, the last being in 2012, and it is always meant to help the urban communities learn the history of Nebraska

"Education is far and away our mission," said Stuhr's Marketing Director Mike Bockoven. "It's the big thing, it's the big thing that we do! The main idea and the main reason for our existence is to portray the era of the Pioneer town builder, is to have people come out here and experience what it was like to be out here in the 1890s."

Kids from Omaha and Lincoln have already learned things they didn't know, like where eggs or popcorn come from.

Price said, "It's just an experience that our children don't get a chance to have in this day and age unless they come off the farm and so it's a great learning experience and it's hands on and that's truly how you learn best."

Even though one of the museum's major buildings is closed for another year due to renovations, none of the kids who go on field trips will be missing out on any of the experiences.

"As far as field trips go most of them would visit the Stuhr Building but that's not where must of the main activity was centered and so, no it's fine, we were able to move everything around and it's been working great," said Bockoven.

And it's important those kids get all the learning they can so it can be brought back to the classroom.

"The hands on experiences here, the teachers are able to, 'Well you remember when we were at Stuhr and we did this?' 'Oh!' It's an ah-hah moment for them," said Price.

The lessons from Stuhr Museum are already leading to success for urban at risk schools.

Price said, "There's a school in Lincoln, very at risk school and their teacher told us for the 1st time ever their 4th graders had a 100% passing rate on a Social Studies competency test."