BISMARCK, N.D., Feb. 14, 2022 – North Dakota State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Monday that Jodi Erickstad, a teacher in the Starkweather school district, will receive the Department of Public Instruction’s first teacher innovation grant.
Erickstad proposed establishing a snowshoeing education program for Starkweather students and their families. The $5,708 grant will buy snowshoe kits, including shoes, walking poles, and portable equipment storage bags.
In her grant application, Erickstad said the project would help students learn orienteering and Global Positioning System (GPS) interpretation while improving students’ mental health through exercise in an outdoor activity. The program will also help students learn cold weather safety practices and survival skills during the winter months.
Erickstad said in her grant application that the project will take students “out of the classroom and into nature.” “We will be exploring the winter environment in which we all take part.”
“By making it possible for teachers to teach science, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), health, and physical education outside, even in the winter months, it will increase the engagement, cognitive benefits, and overall wellness of our students,” Erickstad said.
The snowshoe kits will eventually be available for families to check out and use, increasing meaningful family engagement in student learning.
The Starkweather school district has about 50 students in grades K-12. It is located approximately 25 miles north of Devils Lake in Ramsey County in northeastern North Dakota.
Baesler said the Department of Public Instruction encourages innovative education ideas from teachers by funding up to $10,000 in teacher innovation grants every three months for the next 2 ½ years. The next application deadline is April 27.
According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, North Dakota has six state parks with snowshoe trails.