Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Mar 19, 2018

Alliant foundation awards grants to nonprofits

The Arc, Maharishi School each receive at least $1,000
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jan 11, 2018
Source: PHOTO COURTESY OF EMMY PICARD AND RICK RUDLOFF A rocket soars high into the sky after being fired from its launchpad at the Dexter Apache soccer fields. Maharishi School’s rocketry program received $1,250 to defray the cost of purchasing rocket supplies. Sixteen students from the school are competing in rocketry events this year.

The Alliant Energy Foundation announced it has given more than $7,000 to nonprofit organizations in southeast Iowa.

Seven organizations received a total of $7,850 from the Alliant Energy Foundation in its second of two giving cycles during 2017. Two of the organizations are in Fairfield. Maharishi School received $1,250 for a rocketry project, and The Arc of Jefferson & Nearby Counties received $1,000 to defray the cost of sending campers to Camp Courageous.

“We are proud to support these organizations that are doing such valuable work in our communities,” said Julie Bauer, executive director of the Alliant Energy Foundation. “Our investments support their crucial activities in the areas of Helping Families, Education and the Environment.”

The grants are among the 117 the foundation awarded during this most recent grant cycle, totaling $303,000.


The Arc of Jefferson & Nearby Counties

Darlene Vorhies started The Arc of Jefferson & Nearby Counties because of her daughter in 1973. The organization serves people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Vorhies said the check for one grand will go to people attending Camp Courageous, a year-round camp near Monticello for people with disabilities. She said the group has received a grant from Alliant every year since 2004.

Vorhies said The Arc gives about $8,000 annually to Camp Courageous so local people can attend. She said many go in the fall, and others go in April or May. Often, The Arc will send 15 adults at a time, which costs about $400 or $500 each.

Camp Courageous’s mission statement is to “provide exceptional year-round recreational and respite care opportunities for individuals with special needs and their families. The camp is run primarily on donations, giving all individuals the opportunity to give through gifts of time, materials, money and other means that support the camp.”


Maharishi School

The $1,250 Maharishi School received will go toward defraying the costs of competing in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), an annual rocketry event in Washington, D.C.

Rick Rudloff teaches at Maharishi School and advises the rocketry teams. Last year, a team of four high school students placed fourth at TARC, earning them a cash prize of $10,000. This year, the school is fielding four rocketry teams, three of which will compete in the TARC event, and another that will compete in one run by NASA.

Of the three TARC teams, one team consists of four eighth-grade girls, one is four senior boys, and the third is a mixed gender team of three juniors and one senior.

The four boys on one of the TARC teams also make up the eight-member NASA team, which also has four girls. Sixteen students are competing in all.

The NASA team’s task is to design a rocket that can fly up to 1 mile while carrying a “science or engineering payload.” The competition will occur April 4-8 at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Rudloff said Maharishi School was one of 15 middle and high school teams invited to Huntsville. It made the short list of invitees thanks to how the school finished at TARC the year before. Rudloff said the students will get to work with NASA engineers.

The grant from Alliant will help the teams purchase materials for their rockets. Rudloff said each team conducts 30 or perhaps as many as 50 test flights before competition.

The teams make as many supplies for their rockets as they can, but there is still plenty to buy. They use the school’s 3D printer to make the nose cones. One of the biggest expenses is paying for rocket motors, which cost $6 per flight. On top of that, rockets sometimes malfunction and crash, so the teams are spending money to rebuild them.

Rudloff said the team could spend the money on building sturdier launchpads, too. He said they need launchpads that are taller and stand up better to the wind than the ones they’re using now.

“With the launchpads we’re using now, our rockets are susceptible to deviating a few degrees from the wind, which kills our altitude,” he said.

Rudloff said the teams are designing a variety of rocket fins to see which can best overcome wind.

The TARC teams must submit their scores by April. They will find out April 6 if they will compete at the finals May 12 in D.C. Rudloff said he believes all three teams have a good shot of going to the nation’s capital.

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