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Bush Foundation awards founder’s alma mater a grant of $100,000, YME plans to build science lab

Science can be fun, and it’s about to get a lot more fun at the Yellow Medicine East Schools in Granite Falls, where a $100,000 tribute grant from the Bush Foundation will allow for the construction of a free-standing science, technology, engineering and math classroom. Watching ammonium dichromate erupt as a desktop volcano in a YME science classroom are, from left, Mitch McCosh, Cody Mathiowetz, Gannon Gustafson, Allison Carmany and Isaac Rillo. (Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny)

GRANITE FALLS — Archibald Bush made his first earnings by trapping muskrats, but did a lot better later in life when he became chairman of the executive committee for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M).

He and his wife, Edyth, created the Bush Foundation by turning over a large share of their stock and wealth in the company 60 years ago.

The Bush Foundation is honoring their memory on its 60th anniversary by awarding three tribute grants. The $100,000 grants are being awarded to places that were dear to the hearts of the Foundation’s founders.

The recipients include Archibald Bush’s alma mater, the public schools in Granite Falls.

“Humbled,’’ said Al Stoeckman, superintendent of the Yellow Medicine East Schools in Granite Falls, of his reaction to learning about the grant award last week.

The school will utilize the funds for something that Stoeckman believes would have been dear to Bush’s own heart: The promotion of education in the sciences and innovation.

The school will be erecting a free-standing science, technology, engineering and math classroom on the high school campus. It will include a science laboratory with an attached greenhouse.

“Totally green,’’ said Stoeckman of plans for the building. The hope is to use solar and wind, and biofuel for heating and operating it.

Its main focus will be the sciences and encouraging innovation, but Stoeckman said they intend to take advantage of this unique opportunity in all ways possible. Produce raised in the greenhouse will be used in the school lunch program. Students in agriculture and business classes will have a role in its operations.

Stoeckman said the school is early in the planning stages for the structure. He hopes to break ground in the spring. The school will match up to $25,000 toward the grant if needed, he said.

The Bush Foundation grant continues a long-standing tradition of largess by Bush to his alma mater. The school was one of the first in Minnesota to be equipped with audio recording equipment and overhead projectors, all gifts of the chairman of the company priding itself on innovation.

Bush (1887 – 1966) grew up on a farm near Granite Falls in Chippewa County, and the family later moved to western Renville County. After graduating from the Granite Falls schools, Bush moved to Duluth. He suffered from hay fever, and had been told not to consider a career in farming.

He started as a dockhand in Duluth, took evening classes and got hired by 3M company founder William McKnight as a bookkeeper. He moved up from there, but always remembered the home turf where he once trapped muskrats and gained his appreciation for business.

Along with helping the public schools, he helped create an industrial park in Granite Falls. It became home to two manufacturing firms owned by people he knew. He also contributed more than $250,000 to make possible the opening of what is now the Minnesota West Community and Technology College in Granite Falls.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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