Recognizing the Best of the Indiana Uplands

Congratulations to the 2019 Indiana Uplands Regional Innovation Award winners! These amazing people and groups are working to make the Indiana Uplands a terrific place to work, live, learn, and play!

The Indiana Uplands Regional Innovation Awards recognize deserving people, organizations, and projects that have made meaningful improvements to education, economic development, and/or quality of place within the 11 counties of the Uplands region.

Award winners were recognized at the ROI Annual Report to the Region on April 18 in French Lick, Indiana.

Regional Collaboration Award

Mitchell Community Schools in Lawrence County
Orleans Community Schools in Orange County
Shoals Community Schools in Martin County

The Regional Collaboration Award recognizes two or more organizations that have worked collaboratively to advance prosperity for residents of the Uplands region through education, economic, or quality of place efforts.

Two years ago, the superintendents of Shoals, Mitchell and Orleans chose to apply for an ROI Ready Schools planning grant together. Their goal was to make changes and innovations in the way they educate their students — to better prepare them for a successful future, to provide regional businesses and industries with qualified employees, and to make it possible for more young people to stay in the region.

Through the supportive leadership of three superintendents and their district readiness coordinators, these school districts brought together teams of educators, business owners, community and regional industry leaders to design a unified approach to providing a more relevant, up-to-date, and effective educational experience for all their students. This uncommon example of collaboration between three school systems unconnected by most measures is a testament to their commitment to putting students above all else and to embracing regionalism as a vehicle for local success.

STEM Innovation Award

Paoli High School Agriculture Department

The STEM Innovation Award recognizes a program or organization that has made meaningful and novel contributions to STEM education or training in the Indiana Uplands.

Cory Scott, Paoli Jr. Sr. High School Agriculture Science and Business teacher and FFA advisor, has engaged students in agriculture science in a way that few teachers have done before. Under his leadership, the Paoli Ag Department has increased student engagement from 20 to 180 students per year.

The program has created a hydroponic method to provide fresh produce for the salad bar for student lunches. They have created a hog program that is providing pork to the cafeteria and a fertilizer program, from the waste of the hogs and the cafeteria, that can be used by the school and sold to others. While earning high school credit through experiential learning and gaining essential employability skills, they are also lightening the burden of food costs to the school’s annual budget.

Their success is not going unnoticed, they have been invited to present to the Indiana State Legislature, and an article in Ag Daily talked about the love for pig farming that has overtaken the school and resulted in students taking ownership of their learning. Students are emboldened to find new things to try and to solve their own problems.

The Paoli High School Agriculture Department has created an innovative approach to advancing STEM education in their schools and is producing the farmers, entrepreneurs, and leaders of tomorrow.

Pathway Innovation of the Year

White River Valley High School Precision Machining Program

The Pathway Innovation of the Year is awarded for a K-12 or post-secondary pathway in advanced manufacturing, defense, healthcare, life sciences, or technology that aligns student learning with the employment ecosystem of the Uplands region.

The White River Valley High School Advanced Manufacturing – Precision Machining Pathway is making a difference for the students of White River Valley.

Now in its second year, the program is offering students the opportunity to gain a valuable skill set while giving them a head start on their post-secondary education. Through the Purdue Skills for Success partnership, students earn three industry certifications before entering the Machining Program at the beginning of their junior year. Students then take their first year of college coursework, for credit, through a partnership with Vincennes University during their junior and senior years of high school.

Upon graduation, students are prepared, with the certificates they have earned, to enter the workforce directly with organizations like Metal Technologies in Bloomfield or at Crane. They may also choose to continue their degree in advanced manufacturing–precision machining at Vincennes University – the most comprehensive precision machining technology program in Indiana with a 100% placement rate for its graduates.

Talent Innovation Award

Loogootee Community Schools
Loughmiller Machine, Tool and Design

The Talent Innovation Award recognizes an entity that has designed and deployed an innovative strategy for improving our regional workforce through training, skill advancement, or talent attraction to the Indiana Uplands.

Loogootee Schools and Loughmiller Machine, Tool and Design have created a unique partnership that has resulted in Lion Manufacturing, a student-run enterprise located within Loogootee Schools.

Lion Manufacturing is redefining the traditional educational experience by providing opportunities for students to engage in real-world work experiences. The partnership with Loughmiller Machine, Tool and Design allows students to work on national security and defense initiatives; something that very few high school students across the country can claim. Lion Manufacturing’s first order was for parts that will bracket radar equipment on US Naval vessels.

In its first year, Lion Manufacturing is employing students from the school’s engineering, manufacturing, art and business departments. Students participating in the program are learning to design, market, supervise, and manufacture. In the process, they are gaining the employability skills that are valued by all employers.

Students graduating from the program will not only have the experience necessary to make informed post-secondary decisions and the skills to enter the workforce, but also will gain the entrepreneurial skills that will equip them to start their own businesses. It’s a win-win-win for students, for communities and employers.

Quality of Place Innovation Award

City of Huntingburg Market Street Park

The Quality of Place Innovation Award recognizes projects and meaningful community improvements that enhance the Indiana Uplands as an inventive, industrious, and friendly place to live, work, and play.

The City of Huntingburg has created Market Street Park as a signature public open space that presents renewed opportunities to refocus on the potential of downtown. The design of Market Street Park embraces the community’s spirit of place – connecting both current needs and uses, such as creating a signature space for local festivals and events, as well as providing an appropriate setting for the Old Town Hall landmark.

Public art opportunities are throughout the park site, including the creation of a community Legacy Wall which incorporates interpretive panels to engage users to tell their own story.”

New economic development projects are already becoming a reality as a direct result of this new public space. A vacant building directly adjacent to the park was leased and renovated into a business incubator. The private developers of the incubator project cited the park as the reason for locating in this particular place.

The Market Street Park project is setting the stage for a healthy and productive downtown community for decades to come and the park is the first key piece to attracting multiple generations to work, live, and play in Huntingburg.

Becky Skillman Regional Leadership Award

Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane

The Becky Skillman Regional Leadership Award recognizes an individual or organization that has shown uncommon dedication to bringing the Indiana Uplands region together in pursuit of regional success and prosperity.

NSWC Crane’s purpose is to provide the American Warfighter with solutions to the toughest technical challenges. Realizing that today’s technical challenges are increasingly complex and that no single organization can succeed alone, NSWC Crane is making intentional investments to foster the development of a vibrant innovation ecosystem across our Indiana Uplands region.

Through intentional outreach and the deliberate development of strategic partnerships with industry, academia, nonprofits, and other federal labs, the innovation ecosystem is accelerating the speed of technology advancement, increasing access to federal facilities, and enhancing the command’s ability to field innovative solutions.

NSWC has demonstrated a commitment to the region by establishing an office of engagement that focuses on building collaborative external relationships. The executive leadership team is engaging in offsite visits across the region, and hosting multiple regional events like Buy Indiana, Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry, microelectronics integrity meetings, and STEM showcases that serve to advance regional prosperity.

NSWC Crane is leaning forward, employing innovative approaches while remaining disciplined in the execution of their missions. NSWC Crane’s success is our success and together we are seizing the opportunity to advance the Indiana Uplands.