Danielle Muntz

Klager Honored for 25 Years of Participation in Project RED

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Klager Elementary principal Karin Villarreal accepting an award from Project Red on behalf of her school. Photo credit Washtenaw County Farm Bureau.

Washtenaw County Farm Bureau honored Klager Elementary School at their recent annual meeting for their participation in Project RED (Rural Education Days) every year since it began 25 years ago. Manchester Community Schools is one of only two districts in Washtenaw county, the other being Whittmore Lake, to take part every year since 1990. Klager Principal Karin Villarreal, accepted the certificate on behalf of Klager School.

In 1990 a need was seen in Washtenaw County to create a safe educational program where students could learn about farming and food in Michigan without needing to travel to working farms. Project RED, which Manchester residents had a hand in creating, was born from that need. It has spread around Michigan, and other states have adopted the program as well. Klager’s 3rd graders were there for the inaugural field trip, and have been making the spring trip to the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds every year since.

Project RED introduces children to all aspects of farming; equipment, water usage, baby animals, with special consideration on cows and corn. The education the 3rd graders get through this program is brought full circle by FFA students who return to the event to present on Michigan made commodities. Last Spring 21 area schools brought over 2000 attendees.

Although Villarreal has only recently became Klager’s principal, she has been active in promoting Project RED for years. She first encountered it as a parent volunteer and was instrumental in finding ways for Klager to participate in years that seemed like it might not be possible. She calls Project RED a “Klager institution.” Even in a rural district like Manchester, many children don’t understand where their food comes from, much less that there are different varieties and uses for corn, which keeps Project RED as relevant today as it’s been for the last quarter century.

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