Western wins Google challenge money

Karla Foster, Courier Staff

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Can you smell that? The scent of fresh air and the soft cut green grass. Another thing that also smells is the sackload of cash to the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs (IIRA) for completing the Google Impact Challenge.

The Google Impact Challenge is a competition from Google in which individuals compete to help improve their community. It could be doing things like planting flowers in a deserted area in the city, or providing technological advancements in poor communities to enhance their lives. Whoever can provide the best efforts wins a great amount of money to either continue the great things that they are doing, give to others or keep it for themselves, but that kind of defeats the purpose. Google also organizes other challenges and activities, which can be found on their website.

The IIRA won this challenge and was rewarded with a $75,000 prize, which could go up to about $250,000.The IIRA provides support with technology, helps with research, evaluation and training across the state of Illinois. The main focus is to help the rural areas around the state. They partner with public and private agencies in order to help the people in these areas. The program started in 1986, where a task force conducted a set of 25 hearings. One in particular was for a department in which it could help study and improve rural areas. Three years later, the IIRA was created and has been an improvement ever since. The way farm life was in Illinois then is way different than it is now.

The main eight issues they work on are: economic development, value, education, health care, transportation, public management, housing and information on technology.

Focusing on these aspects can help the rural parts of Illinois improve their farm life. The IIRA can use the money to provide stable homes for farmers. They can provide trucks and other vehicles to help transport goods to local businesses or super markets. They can also help Western’s agriculture program. There also could be a way to bring in pesticides to help farmers with their crops, unless they are organic.

With this wonderful achievement made by the IIRA, we hope that when they have received their money, they will use it for a good cause. Whether it’s for supporting local farmers by helping them get the best fertilizer, fixing their pipelines so they can get clean water or help build greenhouses so they can help increase the quality of plants, it’s certain that they have some projects that they want to take care of. If you want to learn more about the IIRA you can visit their website at www.iira.org.

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