The new Royalton-Hartland Agriculture Foundation kicks off 2021 with a board of directors committed to providing investment and resources for innovative approaches to agriculture education, meeting needs of the Royalton-Hartland School District and the regional agricultural community.
Working cooperatively with the district, the RHAF plans to strengthen relationships with community leaders and businesses, increase leadership and character development opportunities for students, create a speakers bureau, arrange field trips for students and teachers, explore apprenticeship and job shadowing programs, and convene important conversations between the district and the community, said Mike Landers, president of the new foundation.
“The RHAF is separate from the district’s Board of Education,” Landers explained. “We believe we can bring countless opportunities to help the district, educators, administrators, students, parents and community. Our foundation is not responsible for any portion of the district’s budget.”
Joining Landers (Howell Motors) on the board include: Bob Confer (Confer Plastics), Dan Conley (USI Insurance Services), Mike Drum (Drum Oil & Propane), Steve Giroux (Middleport Family Health), Bob Masse (Frontier Airlines), Carisa Masse (JFK Middle School), Jeremy Silsby (Silsby Settlement Farms), Debi Sweeney (Maple View Dairy Farm) and John Sweeney (Maple View Dairy Farm). Non-voting members include Dr. Hank Stopinski, district superintendent, and Matthew Sweeney, Roy-Hart High School agriculture teacher.
A primary goal of the Foundation is to invest in creative educational programs and projects that have a significant positive impact on the lives of the students and families served. Beyond fund development, the RHAF seeks to provide networking opportunities, build relationships with stakeholder groups and the private sector, and offer culturally relevant information and training.
“In this unprecedented time for education, due to the pandemic and a reduction in state contracts, it is heartening that these high-profile community leaders are rallying others to learn about the exciting agriculture initiatives and programs in our schools,” Stopinski said. “Their leadership is gratifying to our school board, teachers and staff. The district looks forward to working with the Foundation to build a strong Agriculture Center of Excellence in the coming years.”