An Amazing Community
If there is one word that describes how Natasha Reierson feels about the Thief River Falls community, that word is “amazing.”
She moved to Thief River Falls in 2010 with her husband, Jarod Reierson, a Lincoln High School alumnus, and their children.
Up until that time, Natasha was in a collegiate athletics position at University of Minnesota Crookston. Natasha loved, and still loves, athletics, but when a position opened with the Thief River Falls Education Foundation in 2014, she decided to make a career change. “I wanted to make an impact,” Natasha said.
Top Five Foundation
Under her leadership and with strong support from the community, the Thief River Falls Education Foundation has been named among the top five in Minnesota. The Foundation has a $3 million endowment and provides $250,000-$300,000 in local education grants and student scholarships each year.
“We have the best equipment and the best technology,” Natasha said, adding, “the programs in our schools are some of the best in the State.”
Natasha credits their success to the strong support the Foundation has had from the community. “Area businesses, community members, alumni—everybody supports education in Thief River, and they support the Foundation. We can’t do the grants that we do without all that support.”
Investing in K12 Education
When a local teacher gets excited about a new technology and wants to bring it into the classroom, the Thief River Falls Education Foundation provides the funding that is needed to bring that innovation to the students. A great example of that is the Maker Spaces that have been added to both the middle school and high school.
According to Natasha, a makerspace movement has taken hold across the State of Minnesota. Thanks to funding from the Foundation, middle- and high-school students in Thief River Falls have access to makerspaces, located on each campus. Students can go into these makerspaces and create anything they can imagine whether it’s an electronic robot or a sewing project.
“We want all of our students, no matter whether they are in eleventh-grade or fifth-grade, to have that exciting and innovative experience. We want them to be excited about what they are learning every single day.”
Scholarships for Post-Secondary
In addition to numerous education grants which help to bring equipment and technology into local classrooms, the Foundation provides scholarships to graduating seniors, helping them pay for post-secondary education. “We award about $90,000 in scholarships each year, in over 60 different categories,” Natasha said.
The Foundation’s impact is evident every time Natasha walks into a Thief River Falls school. “There’s not a day that I walk into one of our schools and I don’t see one of our grants being used,” Natasha said.
Thanks to the Foundation, area students have access to the best of the best and they are excited about math and science.
“If we don’t have it here, we’re going to get it,” Natasha smiled.