News Releases
 » News Releases
 » Media Resources









Wellmark Foundation grant funds awarded to South Dakota Discovery Center

Grant, chosen from over 130 requests, will fund VEGGiES Program

May 14, 2013

Printer-Friendly Version

(Pierre, South Dakota) –The South Dakota Discovery Center has received a $18,760 grant from the Wellmark Foundation to implement the VEGGiES (Volunteers & Educators Growing Gardens with Eager Students) program. Benefitting seven different community sites around Pierre, the program seeks to engage children and the community in growing fruits and vegetables to establish healthier nutrition habits and increase physical activity outdoors through creating and maintaining sustainable gardens.

The VEGGiES Program
The goal of the VEGGiES project is to create a community culture throughout Pierre-Fort Pierre in which fresh fruit and vegetable consumption is the norm. The project begins with the places where our children spend much of their time: school, pre-school, and afterschool programs. Funding is being used to establish Harvest of the Month (HOM) programs at five afterschool sites using new HOM out-of-school time learning plans. In addition, funding also supports the Oahe Child Development Center HOM program, which uses preschool learning plans. Seven sites are developing, or improving, existing gardens with the funding so the youth can learn how food grows, and cultivate the plants, before harvesting them to make fun and healthy snacks.

“The long term goal is to impact food choices at home, by surrounding the youth with nutritional experiences. If a kid chooses cabbage, or other healthy food, instead of junk food, we have been successful,” states Kristie Maher, Executive Director of the South Dakota Discovery Center. The SD Discovery Center was awarded the grant and is collaborating with: Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area, Fort Pierre GOLD (Great Opportunities for Learning and Development) Program, McKinley Elementary School and McKinley CAPS (Capitalizing on Achievement and Partnerships for Students) Program, Oahe Child Development Center, Oahe Family YMCA, St. Joseph School & Afterschool Program, and Washington Elementary School.

Grant one of only ten selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans and their communities. Through its 2012 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received 135 grant requests seeking support for smaller community health projects. This grant award to South Dakota Discovery Center represents one of ten competitively awarded grants to establish pilot efforts or expand health initiatives throughout Iowa and South Dakota.

The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award a cumulative total of over $190,000 to these ten grant recipients to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“Establishing a system of sustainable gardens throughout a community is an excellent way to integrate proper nutrition habits and physical activity for youth and adults alike,” says Matt McGarvey, director of the Wellmark Foundation. “We feel the children will greatly benefit from this hands-on gardening experience in an educational setting, and are very happy to support the project.”

Hands-On Science Center
The SD Discovery Center is a science center working to create curious children, inspired teachers and motivated citizens that seek scientific knowledge and a healthy environment. Hands-on learning opportunities are provided through an exhibit hall, traveling exhibits, teacher professional development, in-house programs and outreach to communities throughout the state.

For more information on the VEGGiES Program, contact Kristie Maher at 605-224-8295 or For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit

Copyright© The Wellmark Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

The Wellmark Foundation is an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Blue Cross®, Blue Shield®, and the Cross® and Shield® symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an Association of Independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.