Sanborn Central’s Fouberg helps open door to outside learning

POET grant to help create new space to allow students, classes to be hosted outdoors

Hudson Fouberg, who will be an 8th grader at Sanborn Central next school year, stands in front of a display that outlines her community service project. The project will create a outdoor learning space at the school that can be used for classes or informal gatherings.
Submitted Photo
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FORESTBURG, S.D. — As a student at Sanborn Central, Hudson Fouberg knows learning inside the classroom can sometimes get a little stuffy.

So she got down to work to help students and teachers find some learning time outside the classroom.

“I think it can be really beneficial because studies show when they have outdoor learning places, kids learn better sometimes,” Fouberg, who will be going into the eighth grade next school year, told the Mitchell Republic.

Fouberg, 13, got the idea for creating an outdoor learning space on the school campus when she and some fellow students in a science class discussed the idea. Later, as a member of a 4-H Teen Leadership Academy, she needed to come up with a community service project. So she decided to expand on her earlier discussions about an outdoor learning area that could be used to host classes, assemblies or other activities.

She brainstormed some ideas. The current incarnation of the plan will include benches, large rocks and possibly tree stumps that could be used as a seating alternative. To add to the bucolic atmosphere, she hopes to include perennials and other landscaping to add to the natural environment.


But she’s currently taking ideas from a number of different sources, including faculty and staff at the school.

“It depends on what the teachers want,” Fouberg said.

Holding classes outdoors is just part of the potential she sees for the new addition at the school. While classes can be hosted, it could also be used as an informal gathering place for students or staff to read, garden, observe nature, write, draw or simply meditate and relax.

She knew it would take a good deal of work to turn the space from idea to reality, so she began looking at ways to bring the plan to life. Though she said she is not completely sure what the project will cost in terms of labor and materials, she knew it would take some amount of fundraising and volunteer labor.

Several ideas have come forward for funding options, including box tops, penny wars, grants, and donations from community businesses, organizations and individuals. The school agriculture department and its FFA program said they could help contribute work to the project, and other experts, such as a friend familiar with building costs, donated their knowledge and expertise.

Part of the funding support is coming from POET Bioprocessing, a company that operates 33 biofuel processing facilities across eight states and employs more than 2,200 team members. Fouberg applied for the company’s Never Satisfied Community Grant Program and was approved for the amount of $3,000, all of which will be put toward the addition.

The grant helps individuals and organizations fund projects aimed at changing their community for the better, according to a statement from the company.

Becky Pitz, general manager at POET Bioprocessing in Mitchell, said Fouberg and her project are an excellent example of why the grant exists and the good it can do for a community.


“At POET, we believe the best leaders lead by serving others and aren’t afraid to make a change,” Pitz said. “Hudson Fouberg is a prime example of this leadership. She saw a need in her community and is taking the initiative to find a creative solution. We’re proud to be able to support her mission to provide a service to the community.”

Fouberg said the grant was an option she and her classmates discovered during the planning process, and she was excited and pleased to be named a recipient.

Hudson Fouberg, center, applied for and received a Never Satisfied Community Grant from POET Bioprocessing. The $3,000 grant will go toward creating an outdoor learning space at her school, Sanborn Central.
Submitted Photo

“Receiving the POET Never Satisfied Community Grant means I have a great opportunity to build a learning space outside for my friends and classmates as well as the students of Sanborn Central,” Fouberg said.

Now the process of building the space will begin, thanks to the arrival of summer vacation. In addition to the agriculture and FFA class help, she said friends and family will chip in to get the work done, along with some teachers and staff for good measure. There is no firm timeline for completion, but Fouberg said volunteers will get to work on it when the time is right.

And she is ready to get started. She’s excited for the chance to contribute a space to learn in an environment closer to nature, and she knows others are excited for it, too.

“We plan to work on it this summer as soon as possible, probably, but since summer is so busy for a lot of people, we just have to find the right time to start. From what I’ve heard from the superintendent and the principal is that a lot of the teachers are very excited about it,” Fouberg said.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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