Students in the agriculture program at Plattsburg High School have been dealing with extreme cold and hot temperatures in their shop.
Now, a grant will help fund a new heating system so they can work comfortably.
The Clinton County agriculture program is one of just six schools across the state to receive a Missouri Department of Agriculture grant aimed at making ag projects more energy-efficient. The program received about $8,925 through the Missouri Agriculture Energy Saving Team — a Revolutionary Opportunity, or MAESTRO, grant.
“I had no idea that it was that competitive,” said Corey Wilkinson, Plattsburg ag education instructor. “And I was happy at the same time that we were going to get to take care of this for our kids.”
Wilkinson said the money will be used to purchase and install new heating systems that will reduce energy usage and make the room more comfortable for students.
“That’s a huge benefit, that we’re not having kids out there freezing to death in the wintertime trying to do projects or burning up because the heat’s too high,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson already bought two new natural gas heaters for the shop and is hoping to have them installed before students return from Christmas break. The new setup will consist of two radiant heat systems that will disperse heat and warm all surfaces in the shop. He said the shop now is heated with systems from 1976.
“Some of them have stopped working over the years, and so then you run the other ones at a higher temp to offset those. So our utility bill for this ag area is pretty high for the school district every year,” Wilkinson said. “And then, the heat’s unreliable.”
Along with creating a better classroom environment, Wilkinson is hoping to cut energy usage almost in half by upgrading to the new heaters. He said the old system was using around 240,000 BTUs, or units of energy, in total. The new heaters will use a combined 150,000 BTUs, cutting down the utility bill each winter.
“We’ll not only get the heaters paid for but we will also reap the rewards of the less use of natural gas,” Wilkinson said. “So, that’s kind of a win-win for the district and for our ag program.”
Wilkinson knew the shop needed new heaters and already was looking into how to make it happen. When he applied for the grant this summer, he said it seemed like a great fit for his program.
According to a press release, the grant awarded up to $10,000 per project to address energy-related issues in K-12 school agriculture facilities in Missouri. The grant money is a reimbursement, so Wilkinson will send his receipt to the Missouri Department of Agriculture and then the funds will be awarded.