Originally aired on KTHV11 – January 9, 2017
A central Arkansas teen’s big idea has won her a big honor.
High school senior Grace Turner won first place in the Clinton Foundation Ideas Matter Essay Contest. Grace attends high school entirely online through Arkansas Virtual Academy and is the first online student to win this prestigious honor.
Turner is one of those students that truly wants to make a difference in the world and in her award-winning essay, she shared how she’d do it using chicken coops.
Turner’s idea was to create community egg sheds and have local schools run them. An egg shed is a larger chicken coop where all the eggs needed for people in the community are produced locally.
She said students could learn where their food comes from and have fun taking care of the chickens. Pasture-raised eggs are more nutrient dense than eggs that are commercially produced so by providing the eggs to students, they could also help combat malnutrition. Turner said the egg shed is also a way to combat animal maltreatment.
“I did some research and in most commercial places that produce eggs, the chickens are raised in horrible conditions where they usually don’t even get to go outside,” she said. “If we could build these in schools it would reduce that and better protect the environment.”
Turner’s idea not only won her $2,500 in scholarships, but it got a stamp of approval from President Bill Clinton. She was able to meet President Clinton and take a photo with him during the scholarship awards ceremony.
“He told me he thought my idea would be great idea to instill here in Arkansas,” said Turner.
Turner didn’t have to look too far to find the idea for putting egg sheds in schools, either. All she had to do was look in her back yard. She said her family has always had chickens and gardens in their back yard. She’s seen firsthand how fun and beneficial they could be.
“I thought it would be a great thing to put in schools because it would be easy to build, sustainable and impactful,” she said.
Turner credits winning this scholarship partly to her flexible, online curriculum that has allowed her more time do things she’s interested in while getting an education. She said going to school online has helped her be more successful.
“It’s a really flexible curriculum so it allows me to do more extracurriculars like varsity sports and take art classes,” she said. “I don’t think it’s ever held me back from doing things I wanted to do and I feel like my education is just as good as those in traditional school, if not better.”
Turner and her mom, Leah, said that although online high school has been untraditional, they wouldn’t change a thing.
“It is a unique opportunity,” said Leah. “When Grace was entering kindergarten, we toured a lot of different schools and we felt Arkansas Virtual academy was the best fit for our family and it has turned out over the years to be a real blessing”
Turner plans to go to Hendrix college next year to study biology or another science related field. She hopes that winning this scholarship will encourage other online students to seek scholarships and opportunities just like traditional high schoolers.