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Friday, Aug 1, 2014

Grainger Foundation awards grant

Grainger Foundation presents Berkshire with $40,000 grant for new initiative in the Workforce Development Program

The Grainger Foundation's Community Grant Program has presented Berkshire with a $40,000 grant to support the new Aquaponics STEM Learning Lab – part of the popular Workforce Development Program at Berkshire.image

The grant will help fund the construction of a year-round farmstand on Berkshire’s campus, along State Route 22 in Canaan, New York. The stand will offer produce grown in greenhouses, including special structures housing aquaponics operations, in which fish and produce are raised together. The fish produce waste that provides fertilizer for the plants, which in turn clean the water for the fish.

“This is one of the exciting and forward-looking new programs here at Berkshire and is destined to impact many young lives in the 21st century," said Timothy Giacchetta, Berkshire President and CEO. "The highly technical skills and experiences our students gain here will help them build successful careers as adults.”

Bruce Potter, superintendent of Berkshire Union Free School District, which works in partnership with Berkshire Farm Center, says the aquaponics operation will be a fully functioning lab and will allow Berkshire to produce vegetables year-round. Potter says he expects construction to begin possibly as early as October.

Part of Berkshire’s highly successful Workforce Development Program, the Nursery and Horticulture program’s greenhouse and aquaponics project will be a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning lab for Berkshire students. These students will also work in paid jobs as part of the program.

“Our program promises to change hundreds of lives over the years,” says Potter. “We will change those lives by making these students more employable. We provide them with a great education and a valuable experience,” he added.

Berkshire also offers students work and educational opportunities in its maple syrup business in which students and staff tap more than 1,000 trees and operate a highly sophisticated maple syrup evaporator and bottling system. Potter expects the operation to produce about 2,000 gallons of maple syrup next year. Other opportunities include culinary arts, a vending service, and building custodial and maintenance services.

In a press release, the Grainger Foundation explained that this donation was recommended by several W.W. Grainger, Inc., Market Managers from New York’s Capital Region, including: Michael Helein, Edwin Melendez, Tom McCausland, Jarrod Pfeifer, Daniel Rinker, Anne Simms, and Amy Zah. “We are proud to support Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth,” said Helein. “We applaud their efforts in helping develop local high school students and are honored to help in support of their mission.”

Grainger, which was founded by William Wallace Grainger, has been a imageleading supplier of maintenance, repair, and operating products for more than 70 years. The Grainger Foundation was also founded by William W. Grainger, as a way to dedicate funds to philanthropy.

Helein said they typically focus on two types of organizations they would like to have the most impact on. “One of those is in the student or technical education arena, and Berkshire’s program was a really good fit,” he said.

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