Our mission focuses on conservation, but some of our greatest moments come from the connections we have made as a result of our programs.
Launched in 2013, JDCF’s Sunshine Acre Skills to Succeed program was designed to provide at-risk, local youth with opportunities to become successful members of our community through a unique partnership with JDCF, Northwest Academy, Jo-Carroll Energy, CoBank, NICC and Highland Community College, and individual volunteers. In just three years, 5 students from the Sunshine Acre program have enrolled in college, a life-changing decision that had not previously been considered.
Throughout the 2015 school year, students were engaged in several sessions in the field including seed collection and processing, invasive species control, brush clearing and burning, and witnessed a prescribed burn of a portion of Casper Bluff. Tours at Jo Carroll Energy and businesses in downtown Elizabeth connected the students to professionals and community leaders, and focused on potential career paths.
The highlight of Sunshine Acre in 2015 was a “back-room tour” of the Field Museum with Collections Specialist Jim Louderman. Students had the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the types of career and higher education opportunities available for those interested in science, art, and the natural world. For the majority it was the first time they had been to Chicago and it was a day unlike any other.
“Dear Mr. Louderman:
Thank you for getting us into the museum and for the tips to help me become a paleontologist. I might work at the Field Museum but I still want to look at my options. I enjoyed the bugs. I thought they were amazing. I have always loved stuff like that ever since I was a little girl. I can’t wait to come back...Thank you again for teaching me more about your museum. I learned so much and I will never forget it.”
Sunshine Acre Student