Alpha Gamma Rho Members Enrich Kindergarten Classrooms Through ISU 4U Promise Program

By Ellen Bombela, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

A program that started as a way to introduce elementary students to a tuition free education at Iowa State University has expanded to help those students choose a major.

The partnership between the ISU 4U Promise program and the King and Moulton elementary schools in the Des Moines Public School District started five years ago. Now volunteers, including members of Iowa State’s Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) fraternity, go into elementary schools to teach kids about the different majors they can take at Iowa State.

“Each grade level at the elementary schools is partnered with one of the undergraduate colleges at Iowa State,” said Shari Miller, the ISU 4U Promise Program Coordinator. “The volunteers go in and do lessons and activities in the classrooms related to their college.”

The ISU 4U Promise program is a partnership between Iowa State University and Des Moines Public Schools that gives eligible students at King and Moulton elementary schools the opportunity to attend college tuition free. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is partnered with the kindergarten classrooms and members of AGR travel to Des Moines to work with the ISU 4U Promise program.

Jake Hlas, a sophomore in animal science, and Brandon Hanson, a senior in agricultural business, are two AGR members who frequently volunteer. A total of six fraternity members visit King Elementary once a month to teach the kindergartners about agriculture through lessons and activities.

“We recently held a farmer’s market and we gave each student three dollars to spend on different products at each station, such as popcorn, grapes, Cheez-Its and strawberries,” said Hlas. “The kids then had the option at each station to buy the product or save their money for something else.”

This activity taught students how farmer’s markets operate, and also how to make decisions when it comes to spending and saving their money.

The volunteers provide the first exposure these students have had with the idea of a major in agriculture.

“My favorite part is being able to plant the seed for someone who comes from an urban environment like Des Moines, because they might not have that opportunity if they didn’t have us going into the classrooms and introducing them to agriculture,” Hanson said.

Although AGR only volunteers at King Elementary, they are hoping to expand to Moulton Elementary and bring the the students to Iowa State for a field trip before the end of the semester.

“We are planning a campus visit day where the kindergartners can visit the Iowa State Dairy Farm, have lunch and try ice cream made by the Dairy Club,” Hlas said.

March 29, 2019