Black Hills State University has been awarded a $75,000 grant by the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program to address the STEM teacher shortage in rural South Dakota. 
The grant will fund the project “Building Capacity to Address STEM Educator Shortages in Rural South Dakota,” led by Dr. Ben Sayler, professor at BHSU and director of South Dakota’s Center for the Advancement of Math and Science Education. Project researchers will explore factors that inspire students, especially those from rural and low-income backgrounds, to pursue STEM teaching and to strengthen partnerships with high-need rural and tribal schools within the region. BHSU will also partner with the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s Education & Outreach team. 
“This is a great opportunity for BHSU with excellent potential for partnering with South Dakota school districts and supporting them in providing exemplary science and math instruction,” said Sayler.  
This initial grant will fund the planning process of the project which includes surveying and interviewing teachers and administrators at rural schools and districts, as well as recent BHSU alumni, K-12 and university students, and personnel from other Noyce-funded STEM educator preparation programs. 
The results of this assessment will help the project team understand the needs of small, rural schools in recruiting, retaining, and supporting STEM educators, particularly early career teachers with backgrounds similar to the students they serve.  
“Through this planning grant, BHSU will develop a proposal to provide more STEM teachers for Western South Dakota,” said BHSU President Laurie S. Nichols. “This fits beautifully with our mission of producing quality teachers for the region, and we look forward to developing a strong recruitment plan to combat the STEM teacher shortage in South Dakota.”  
The project could receive additional grant funding of up to $1.2 million, which would include scholarships for STEM education students. 
For more information about this project, please contact Dr. Ben Sayler at