Sauk Trail wins $8,000 American Girl art grant

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A new art project for fourth-graders at Sauk Trail Elementary School has won a funding grant from the American Girl Fund for Children.

Students' Inter-generational Art to Preserve Nature is a unique art experience engaging students, their families, and senior citizens. The project will focus on the need to preserve local nature, conveyed through works of art.

Tom Kobinsky, who works for the District in Facilities Support and is a MCPASD Education Foundation board member, along with Sauk Trail art teacher Anne Gustafson drafted the proposal, with input from the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Their proposal was awarded an $8,000 grant by the American Girl Fund for Children during its recent grant cycle.

The project will begin with fourth-graders interviewing senior citizens at two local residential facilities. They will ask questions about environmental changes the seniors have seen in their lifetime. They’ll seek personal stories and have the seniors talk about the importance of nature conservation for future generations.

The children will then visit Pheasant Branch Conservancy to explore, sketch, and take photos of examples of what they learned from their interviews.

"Then, let the creativity begin,'' Kobinsky said.

Children will chose from a variety of media to create art reflecting their newly discovered passion for protecting nature. Family members, Friends of Pheasant Branch, and senior citizens will be invited into the art room to help.

A key project component will be booklets containing narratives the children compose that will bring depth to their artwork and help convey the message of conservation. 

The finished art will be mounted or framed for display, then taken for showings at libraries, senior centers, and other public facilities throughout Dane County. Booklets will be offered at no charge.

"I am excited that the arts are an integral part of this inter-generational project,” Gustafson said. “This will truly be a memorable learning experience for everyone involved.''

MCPASD Education Foundation Chair Courtney Ward-Reichard noted that “this grant will provide a wonderful opportunity for students in our District, and we are very hopeful that we can expand this program throughout our schools in coming years.”

The American Girl Fund for Children provides grants for philanthropic programs throughout Dane County that enhance children’s education in the arts and environment. American Girl was founded, and is still based, in Middleton, and is devoted to celebrating girls ages 3 to 12 through age-appropriate, high-quality dolls and accessories, books, clothes, movies, and unforgettable experiences. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc., the world's leading toy company.