GenPro Energy Partners with Sanford Underground Research Facility, Provides STEM gifts to students at Insa Wica Owayawa

GenPro Energy Solutions, in partnership with the Sanford Underground Research Facility, delivered 245 gifts and backpacks full of school supplies for the students of Insa Wica Owayawa (Loneman School) in Oglala, SD. The SURF Foundation raised $6,500 to purchase the students’ gifts and supplies.

Dr. Peggy Norris, Deputy Director of Education and Outreach (E&O) at SURF spearheaded the campaign. The E&O team supports teachers across the state and region with presentations to classes, “and a teacher from Loneman School contacted us about doing a monthly virtual session for their after-school club” (which meets on Saturdays).

Norris continues to explain, “we did two sessions in October and November and found that conditions are very poor. Students have been at home since March, and some don’t have running water. Even though they have been learning remotely, we were told not to assume students had a pencil and paper. Which got me thinking I needed to try and do something to help.”

Norris started working to find a way to raise funds to support the school “I was going to contact my friends and try to raise a few thousand dollars to send them backpacks of school supplies, but with the support of the new SURF Foundation, we raised $6,500.” Once the funds were raised, the real work began.

Molly Brown, GenPro Energy’s Executive Vice President of Energy Production, found a way to get GenPro involved. “One of GenPro’s core values is education. For many years GenPro has been involved with bringing educational events to communities throughout the region.”

Brown continues to explain how GenPro became involved with the organization, “we had been involved with toy drives for Pine Ridge for several years when Peggy Norris brought up the idea of a fundraiser for Loneman School. Not your typical toy drive, but the idea would be to provide the students with the basic supplies they need for school with supplemental STEM activities and games and a toy that had a STEM education purpose.”

Gifts included activities to help students learn valuable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills. “No matter what career students choose to go into, in today’s world, it will surely involve some aspect of STEM. We don’t know what the jobs of the future will be. But we do know that science and engineering practices will train all students to be critical thinkers. Having students build and create something rather than learn about something in a classroom trains them to ask questions, investigate, and learn how to obtain information and evaluate evidence.” Norris said.

Many volunteers helped bring the whole plan together. “Employees from the Education and Outreach Department and the staff at His & Hers Ale House & Wine Bar in Deadwood volunteered to wrap and pack the gifts. GenPro Energy then provided the vehicle, gas, and personnel for transport.” Brown explained, “for me, this provides not only a toy under the tree for a child in need. It provides vitally needed supplies and activities in a time when uncertainty is at an all-time high, especially when it comes to being able to educate our youth.”

Education and outreach is a pillar at GenPro Energy Solutions. We aim to inspire the next generation of STEM students to help us work towards more energy-efficient solutions to power our future.

Sanford Lab is operated by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) with funding from the Department of Energy. Our mission is to advance world class science and inspire learning across generations. Established in 2019, the SURF Foundation supports that mission by building upon strong relationships within the community and opening doors for public contributions. Visit Sanford Lab atĀ www.SanfordLab.org.

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