The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services has more than $600,000 in grant money to give to Arkansas schools and educators for programs in 2018, thanks to fines derived from wildlife violations. The application deadline for fiscal year 2018 grants is Oct. 26, 2017.
When a person is convicted of a wildlife fine, the money is not spent by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Instead, it is handed over to the AEDC, which fulfills grant requests to mold the next generation of hunters and anglers.
"We’re often asked if salaries, vehicles, or equipment are purchased with the fines, and in some states that may be the case," said Matt Burns, assistant chief of education for the AGFC. "But in Arkansas, we are able to invest that money in conservation education programs carried out by schools and other organizations."
The program stems from a 2015 Arkansas Legislative Act that modified the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Education program’s structure and placed the updated program under the administration of the Division of Rural Services.
A county-by-county list of available wildlife fine money is still being compiled. However, more than $600,000.00 is expected in 2018 for the program, which is applicable to any school or conservation district in Arkansas, regardless of size or population. Specific programs eligible for funding include, but are not limited to, the study of general fish and wildlife conservation issues, Project WILD Workshops, Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program, Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, Fishing in the Natural State, Arkansas Stream Team, School Yard Habitat Site Development, and specialized AGFC conservation education/educator training workshops focused on the programs above. Funds also may be used by educators to take students on field trips to AGFC nature centers, conservation education centers and wildlife management areas.
More information on program eligibility is available at www.ruralservices.Arkansas.gov. You can also contact Grants Manager Tonya Hass at 1-888-RURALAR.