May 24, 2017 - At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, Cargill Cares approached Sidney City Schools and proposed an idea to promote attendance – a free bike at the end of the school year to every fourth grader with perfect attendance.
“Having been involved with a similar program with a previous employer, I saw the impact it had on the individual children, their associated test scores, and the community in general,” said Mickey Hammer, Cargill Facility Leader, Sidney, Ohio.
“First, we met with Superintendent John Scheu and the elementary school principals. The discussion focused on whether this would make a difference. Based on their input and enthusiasm we took it back to our Cargill Cares Council and got their approval,” said Hammer.
Emerson Elementary fourth graders with perfect attendance who earned a bike were: Alex Finton, Garrett Guinther, Kelis McNeal, Michelle Miller, Jenna Shaffer, Brandi South, and Deaglan Tucker.
Longfellow Elementary fourth graders with perfect attendance who earned a bike were: Isaiah Macias, Dominic Mariano, Elijah McKenzie, Kajata Nage, and Addison Parks.
Northwood Elementary fourth graders with perfect attendance who earned a bike were: Joseph Bernardi, Braxton Cox, Addyson Craft, Michael Frazier, Anna Fujioka, and Xander Keller.
Whittier Elementary fourth graders with perfect attendance who earned a bike were: Andrew Adams, Katelyn Campbell, Bradyn Castle, Matthew Couchot, Kadyn Cromes, Landen Ludwig, Andrew Overholser, Anna Stimetz, Maggie Turner, Jeffrey Van Fossen, Evie Wethington, and Ainsley Wiford.
“This promotion from Cargill to award 4th grade students with bicycles for perfect attendance proved to be a significant motivator for the number of students who achieved this goal,” said Sidney Superintendent John Scheu.
“We hear constantly from business leaders how important regular and punctual attendance is to the success of their individual businesses, and hopefully this critical attribute of good attendance will carry on with these students throughout the rest of their schooling, and continue when they eventually enter the workforce."
Amy Rhoades, committee member of the Cargill Cares Council in Sidney echoed Scheu’s sentiments about workforce attendance.
“When the children were learning about the program during open house, they were full of excitement and determination! I feel privileged and blessed to be part of Cargill Cares with this amazing opportunity to help make a positive impact. Students who value attendance soon grow to be employees who will do the same.”
One Whittier student, Ainsley Wiford, was still motivated to attain perfect attendance even though she received a new bike at Christmas. Behind her motivation was her desire to donate the bike given to her by Cargill to Fish Thrift Shop so that another child in need of a bike could have one. While good attendance is a soft skill necessary for the workforce, generosity and a sense of community are character traits of great importance.
All of the Sidney Elementary principals feel the program has provided great incentive for many kids to come to school every day, be on time, and remain at school for the entire day, and were extremely grateful to Cargill Cares for the opportunity.
Northwood principal Eric Barr said, “We are very appreciative of everything Cargill Cares has done to help our students understand the importance of good attendance by providing this generous incentive.”
Parents and teachers have shared with principals that this incentive program has been a real motivator for their children.
Betsy Rowe, 4th grade teacher at Longfellow, shared she had a student who kept the bike in the back of his mind. “He told me he thought about certain things, like the weather, and wondered, ‘Could I get sick from this and miss days?’ That went to show that it was something he felt was worth thinking ahead about and planning for it properly.”
Another student of Betsy Rowe’s has had perfect attendance every year since kindergarten. “I thought this was easy because I’ve never missed a day of school,” quipped Addison Parks.
Emerson Elementary fourth grader Michelle Miller sustained a serious leg injury. Despite the injury, and fueled by her determination to receive a bike, she didn’t miss a day.
Community Comes Together
Carty’s Bike Shop was instrumental in helping Cargill Cares be able to give these students the best quality of bike.
“Without Carl Cartwright’s commitment to this program and hard work getting us the best bikes at the best price, and assemble all the bikes in a short time, we would not have been able to deliver on our promise to these outstanding fourth graders. Carty’s Bike Shop has been a fixture in the community for over 75 years, and it’s great to recognize the renewed investment in our youth.”
Additionally, the Shelby County Health Department is providing vouchers for these students to receive a free bike helmet.
Scheu added, “Sidney City Schools is sincerely appreciative of Cargill stepping forward with such an important recognition of a soft skill we can and should be emphasizing at an early age- namely regular and punctual attendance. We are also grateful to Carty’s Bike shop for their commitment to helping the Cargill Cares team, as well as the Shelby County Health Department for providing vouchers for free bike helmets to these students receiving bicycles for their achievement."
What is Cargill Cares?
Cargill Cares Councils across all Cargill identify important local issues; build effective relationships with community stakeholders; and work to improve living standards to enable communities to thrive. Cargill has 150,000 employees in 70 countries who are committed to feeding the world in a responsible way, reducing environmental impact and improving the communities where we live and work.
Locally, the Sidney Cargill Cares Council is represented by: Mickey Hamer, Jason Brewer, Andrea Guckes, Mary Hughes, Amy Rhoades, Jennifer Wilt, Karla Pottkotter, and Shannon Hammer.