Local schools receive conservation grants for wildlife education

AGFC submitted photoThis photo depicts the Youth Expo 2011 at Lake Sylvia.

Three Faulkner County schools were among the recipients of Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services.

Conway High School and Mt. Vernon-Enola each received $1,322.37 grants and Theodore Jones Elementary School received a $234.83 grant for a total of $2,879.57.

The grant program is funded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission through fines collected from hunting and fishing violations. 

“Many people think fine money goes to the AGFC, but that’s just not the case,” Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Director Pat Fitts said. “In fact, that money goes to schools and educators in the exact county where it was collected to help teachers explain the wonders of nature to young Arkansans.”

The program awarded $444,230.34 in grants to promote wildlife education and improve school conservation programs to 164 schools, school districts and conservation districts in 70 counties throughout the state, AGFC officials said in a news release.

While all schools in the state are eligible to participate in the program, only money collected in the county where the violation occurred can be used to fund grants for that county.

“The Wildlife Education program enhances educational opportunities by getting kids out of the classroom and opening their eyes to the world around them,” AEDC Executive Director and Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said. “Education is the foundation of a strong economy, and we are excited to be a part of a program that makes learning fun for kids while promoting volunteerism and community involvement for all ages.”

Previous grants have helped create archery, fishery and competitive shooting sports programs, created and enhanced outdoor classroom opportunities and provided funding for educational materials, lab supplies and field trips to AGFC nature and education centers, AGFC officials said.

AGFC Chief of Education Tabbi Kinion said outdoor education is key to understanding the need to encourage a more viable existence for Arkansas youth.

“By understanding habitat and resource management, we hope to develop a connection between the state’s youth and our wonderful natural resources,” she said.

Applications for the grants are accepted each fall, with deadlines for grant proposals usually set at the beginning of October. 

For more information on the grants, visit www.ArkansasEDC.com/Rural-Services.

Staff writer Jeanette Anderton can be reached at janderton@thecabin.net

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