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Wolfinger Family Fund supports projects, opportunities at area schools

Tue, Mar 14th 2023 11:00 am

Four area school districts and one New Jersey school recently received grants supporting new projects and education opportunities, together totaling $4,633, from the Wolfinger Family Donor Advised Fund.

Harold “Sandy” and Connie Wolfinger established the Wolfinger Family Fund in 2019 and designed the fund to provide annual support for educational programming and enrichment opportunities for area students in schools.

The Smethport Area School District received three grants, totaling $1,187, for three projects in the district schools.

The district received $480 to begin a new “wildlife and fisheries” class for students in grades 9-12. The grant will allow the school to purchase materials such as scat samples of common PA mammals, silicon track prints and more.

This class will be a new elective for Smethport high schoolers, said Christine Lightner, biology instructor.

A $382 grant will support the purchase of hydroponics and aquaponics materials and supplies for students in environmental science classes in grades 10-12.

These supplies will help students learn about growing food in the environment. In the class, students take care of aquaponic and hydroponic tanks in the classroom that allow them to care for their own sustainable ecosystem throughout the year, said Michelle Ackler, environmental science teacher.

These lessons also teach students how they can grow food inside their own homes through learning about water testing, different seeds, plants, herbs and vegetables.

A grant of $325 will support the purchase of new free weights for the middle/high school weightroom to be utilized by physical education and athletics programs.

The purchase of the light (1-10) pound free weights will be especially helpful for rehabilitation from injuries during the school year for students and athletes and younger students getting into the practice of weightlifting, said athletics trainer Melissa O’Brien.

Coudersport Area School District received $1,000 for an expansion of educational opportunities in the school’s STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Learning Lab, including the beginning of a robotics program and the purchase of a 3D printer and related materials.

The robotics program will allow Coudersport High School students to write computer programs that enable a robot to perceive its environment, make plans and decisions, and execute tasks.

“Robots have taken over repetitive jobs and, in the future, they will assign more mundane jobs to robots,” said Theresa Daniels, Smart Lab instructor. “Therefore, the future belongs to problem solvers and creative thinkers. As teachers, we must prepare our students for this field.”

Ellicottville Central School received $752 for the purchase of STEM-related books and other classroom materials to introduce elementary-aged students to STEM-related activities.

The lessons first introduce kindergarten-4th grade students to a story using the books purchased through the grant.  Teachers then relate the text to a real-life engineering task and ask students to complete a related challenge as a team, said Leah Farnum, an Ellicottville second grade teacher.

Northern Potter School District received $750 in support of a new survival sciences class for 11-12th grade students, which helps students learn more about scenarios and practices for outdoor survival as well as necessary skills for use in everyday life.

Students will learn about safety and emergency injury treatment, fire building, foraging and food preservation and more, said Heidi Jackson, science education teacher.

The Wolfinger/Wilhelm grant program, made possible through the Wolfinger Family Fund, provided a $944 grant to the Belvidere School District (NJ) to purchase supplies for a landscape design course under the supervision of Matthew Duckworth, agriculture teacher, for high school students that covers the various aspects of landscape design and construction.

Sandy’s mother, Dorothy Wolfinger, and her sister, Alice Wilhelm, were lifelong residents of Belvidere and attended schools there from grades 1-12. Alice also taught kindergarten at Belvidere for many years. Sandy and all of his siblings, Ray, Carol and Kirk Wolfinger, and cousin ,George Wilhelm, attended Belvidere from kindergarten on. 

Donations can be made to the Wolfinger Family Donor Advised Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, 301 North Union St., Suite 203, Olean, NY 14760 or online at cattfoundation.org.

The Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is the area’s supportive, responsive, and trusted community foundation. Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).