Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 16

F CUS ON PHOTOS
White River Valley helps 'Power Up' Eagle Eye Camera Club
by Jim McCarty | jmccarty@ruralmissouri.coop

dollar amount. This year marks the 25th anniversary for Operation Round Up
at White River Valley.
"From a penny to 99 cents, if you average it for a year it's about $6 for a
he bell rings, announcing another day has ended for students at the
John Thomas School of Discovery in Nixa. An excited throng of K-6 grad- family," Cindy says. "It's not much, but it makes a big difference when you put
everyone's pennies together."
ers rush to buses or waiting cars.
A separate board administers White River Valley's Operation Round Up and
But a group of 15, dressed in red shirts sporting an
eagle motif, stay behind. They are members of the Eagle Eye
decides which grant proposals get funded. It also channels money into a
Camera Club, one of 16 clubs students can join at the innovabackpack program that sends food home with needy kids and has protive magnet school.
vided more than $1.6 million in scholarships for area seniors heading
to college.
Camera club meetings always start with a "focus" group, volunteer advisor Amy Short says. The students cluster around Amy,
Back at the Eagle Eye Camera Club, Amy received two grants
who leads a discussion about making better photographs.
which helped pay for prints and mounts for a photo display that
showcases the student's work. The funds also went toward tri"We chat awhile," Amy says. "Then we do camera-related activipods, freeing money for the school to add cameras.
ties. They go online and look for examples. I hear, 'I want to take a
Nixa
"The parents are surprised they don't need their own cameras,"
picture like that.' OK, how would you do that?"
Amy says. "But we can only have as many members as we have
It's a common challenge students at John Thomas School see
from faculty and volunteers alike. They are taught to think, encouraged to ask
cameras."
The club takes "Eagle Excursions," field trips to visually loaded locations
questions and to find the answers themselves.
It's all part of the school's emphasis on STEAM: science, technology, engineer- such as the Springfield Conservation Nature Center and The Butterfly House at
ing, arts and math. Classrooms here have been transformed into labs, studios Springfield Botanical Gardens.
Another club outing led to a hardware store, where the students used their
and learning centers. As Principal Jennifer Chastain puts it in an introductory
creativity to show common items in a new way. One student photographer came
video, "We see everything and teach everything through the lens of science."
This school is one of 19 that has benefited from White River Valley Electric back with a still life of bright electric plugs. Another explored colored wires in a
Cooperative's Power Up Grant program. These grants provide funding for inno- way that made them look like candy. Many photos include the club's mascot, a
vative classroom-based educational projects for schools in the Branson-based stuffed eagle named Baldwin.
One project for the group was to photograph objects or activities that use
electric cooperative's five-county service area.
Since the program's start 12 years ago, more than $500,000 has been grant- electricity. A display - sponsored by White River Valley - showed how the photographers approached this challenge, in the proed to area schools. In 2016 alone, 107 educators
cess learning what powers their digital world.
received grants totaling $49,955. The money
The camera club also gained access to the floor
has been used to purchase new technology such
at a Nixa High School basketball game, where
as white boards and smart tablets and for oldthey learned the benefit of fast shutter speeds.
school staples such as books and microscopes.
The club motto is "Soaring to New Sights,"
"So many teachers actually buy stuff for their
Amy says of the three-year-old club. "We don't do
classrooms out of their own pockets," says Cindy
selfies. Also no photo bombs, because that shows
Rains, who coordinates the program for White
disrespect for the photographer," she adds.
River Valley. "That's wonderful that they are so
She says the club is inspiring the students to
committed, but it's so unfair that they have to do
a potential future career. "I hear talk of 'I want to
that themselves. It's a worthwhile program."
be a photographer when I grow up, ' " she says.
She says the grants, which can be for up to
$500, go a long way, especially at small schools.
You can see the work of the Eagle Eye CamTeachers can only receive one grant per year, but
era Club at http://s.coop/25w40. For more inforcan apply for new grants every school year.
mation on White River Valley Electric's Power Up
The money comes from Operation Round Up,
grants, contact Cindy Rains at 417-335-9335 or
a program that lets the cooperative's members
visit http://s.coop/25w3z.
round up their electric bills to the next highest

T

Above: Eagle Eye Camera Club member Ethan Goodall works on a still life project during one of the group's meetings. Below: Volunteer advisor Amy Short leads a discussion on making better
photos. She's benefited from two of White River Valley Electric Cooperative's Power Up grants, which help educators pay for innovative programs at schools in the co-op's service area.


http://www.s.coop/25w40 http://www.s.coop/25w3z

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2017

Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover1
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Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 4
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Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover3
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