February 18, 2013

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1. Student Chef Competitions – Holmen, Statewide

A student ”Iron Chef” competition in Southwestern Wisconsin and a similar, statewide event planned by the DPI aim to energize students around local foods and healthful eating.

In the Holmen High School Iron Chef Competition, secondary students will design a tasty, nutritious menu item that uses at least two local ”Harvest of the Month” ingredients from La Crosse County’s Farm2School program.

On a state level, the DPI is holding Whipping Up Wellness, a Wisconsin Student Chef Competition which has an added stipulation that recipes must be easily incorporated into school food service.

According to the La Crosse Tribune, the Holmen contest was invented by Holmen Nutrition Service Supervisor Mike Gasper, Family and Consumer Education Teacher Sarah Halverson, and La Crosse County Health Educator Maggie Smith. The top prize is $500.

The top three finalists in the statewide competition will receive prizes; the top five finalists will receive banners to display at their schools.

In both competitions, students will start by creating recipes, with top contenders going on to actually cook their creations. Whipping Up Wellness will hold the cooking portion of its competition on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

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2. Little Free Libraries Inspire Love of Reading

A creative idea born in Wisconsin, which is helping people worldwide share books, joy, and camaraderie, may soon come to a Wisconsin town or urban neighborhood near you.

Invented in 2009 by Rick Brooks of Madison and Tod Bol of Hudson, Little Free Libraries are box-shaped wooden creations with small shelves inside. Filled with books, artfully decorated, and mounted on posts, they are installed by individual volunteers or organizations, usually next to sidewalks, bike paths, and the like. Signage often encourages passers-by to feel free to ”take a book, leave a book!”

The little book-houses have made it to thousands of locations, in 36 countries on almost every continent.picture of a brightly decorated Little Free Library. Photo from http://www.littlefreelibrary.org/you-can-build-one-like-this.html

A new effort aims to place Little Free Libraries in small towns without public libraries, focusing first on Wisconsin and Minnesota. The group is inviting both donations to support this initiative and nominations for towns to receive a library and a starter package of books.

Clearly, Little Free Libraries can’t aspire to same level of service as public or school libraries—apart from the quantity and selection of books, think interlibrary loan, Internet access, job-training workshops, or storytime.

But as simple, charming expressions of love for community, reading, and art, they have proved effective at inspiring spontaneous interest in reading.

Seeing this potential, Minneapolis Public Schools is working to install 100 Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods where many children still need to learn the pleasure of reading. A local individual or group must serve as a steward for each library.

Thousands of Little Free Libraries are being shipped to Africa and other developing regions where public facilities are rare.

In 2012, the organization received word of 4,000 new Little Free Libraries, compared to 100 the year before, Bol told Publishers Weekly. And momentum is growing: ”I suspect we’ll double in under six months what we are doing.”

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3. Recollections of Wisconsin Invited, Shared

A revamped, collaborative Wisconsin history website invites everyone to contribute memories, family photographs, knowledge, and comments.

Recollection Wisconsin, formerly known as Wisconsin Heritage Online, provides free access to history resources from the collections of libraries, archives, museums and historical societies across the state.

New features, incorporating social media tools and new partnerships, include:

Recollection Wisconsin can also be followed via Tumblr and Twitter.

The DPI has played a role in the program from the start through awarding federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants. Supported by this funding and working with the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center, public libraries in Wisconsin have made available online thousands of materials including historic photographs, books, and maps.

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4. Community Grant Opportunity

State Farm invites applications for a ”philanthropic program that empowers people to identify issues in their community and lets communities determine where grant funding is awarded.”

A group of thirty 17- to 20-year-olds known as the State Farm Youth Advisory Board will choose the top 200 proposals (”causes”).

Formerly known as Cause an Effect, the Neighborhood Assist program accepts proposals exclusively through Facebook. Anyone can log on and fill out a relatively brief form describing an unmet need in a community, a nonprofit that could be associated with meeting that need, and how the applicant would use $25,000 to address it.

The three categories are education, safety, and community development.

Previous winners helped an animal shelter replace its rescue van, assisted organizations that support the homeless and those in poverty, improved or built neighborhood parks.

Neighborhood Assist will accept applications until 3,000 submissions are received (or no later than March 6). The top 200 causes will be announced on Facebook on April 4. At that point, anyone with the free Facebook application can vote for their favorite causes. The 40 winners will be announced, via Facebook, on April 29.

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5. Grants for Wisconsin Covenant Students

Up to $10,000 in money for college is waiting for every eligible high school senior who signed the Wisconsin Covenant Pledge. However, many of those students may miss out on this aid because they do not complete the senior confirmation process before an upcoming April 1 deadline.

Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation has created several helpful resources to make it easy for educators to encourage students to complete the process. At nextstopcollegewi.org there are materials such as a flyer outlining the confirmation steps, informational slides that can be dropped into any presentation, postage-paid envelopes for students to submit forms, and more.

For more information about the Wisconsin Covenant, visit wisconsincovenant.wi.gov or contact Garth Beyer, Higher Educational Aids Board Grant Specialist, 608-267-9389.

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State Superintendent Tony Evers


1. Student Chef Competitions – Holmen, Statewide

2. Little Free Libraries Inspire Love of Reading

3. ”Recollections” from Wisconsin are Invited, Shared

4. Community Grant Opportunity

5. Grants for Wisconsin Covenant Students

DPI-ConnectEd comes from the office of State Superintendent Tony Evers
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For questions about this information, contact Benson Gardner (608) 266-3374