LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) Division of Rural Services has awarded grants totaling $536,401 to promote wildlife education and improve school conservation programs to 150 schools, school districts and conservation districts in 65 Arkansas counties. The local awards totaled $23,495.The grant program is funded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) through fines collected from hunting and fishing violations. Only money collected in the county where the violation occurred may be used as grant funds for that county.
All schools in the state are eligible to participate in the program. The funding schools have received in previous years has helped create and maintain archery, fishing and competitive shooting sports programs. Schools also use the money to help improve wildlife education by purchasing educational materials, materials for the creation of indoor and outdoor habitats, lab supplies and field trips to AGFC nature and education centers. Conservation districts use the funding to help promote wildlife conservation awareness in the communities by hosting environmental education days and fishing derbies for children of all ages.
“This year more than ever, we are seeing the benefits of getting out and enjoying the wildlife that we often take for granted,” said Secretary of Commerce and AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston. “The Wildlife Education program enhances educational opportunities by getting kids out of the classroom and into the world in their own backyards. AEDC is excited to be part of this opportunity that not only enhances education and economic development, but also volunteerism and community involvement for Arkansans of all ages.”
Outdoor education plays a vital role in understanding the need to encourage a more viable existence for Arkansas’ youth, according to AGFC Chief of Education Tabbi Kinion.
“By understanding habitat and resource management, we hope to develop a connection between the state’s youth and our wonderful natural resources,” she explained.
Some schools’ projects funded in part by the grant include gardening supplies and equipment, materials to build a beaver dam, birding supplies, recycling bins for recreational areas, and supplies for science labs and outdoor classrooms.
Local grant recipients include
Baxter County Conservation District
The Baxter County Conservation District received $1,500 in funding to purchase liability insurance for practice range,team shirts, registration fees, 4-H registration fees, 4-H shooting sports instructor training fees and shooting sports supplies.
Mountain Home Public Schools
Mountain Home Public Schools received $3,138.98 in funding to purchase items to construct an outdoor classroom including: plants, lumber for birdhouses, benches, chairs, synthetic grass, topsoil and craft tables.
Nelson-Wilks-Herron Elementary received $1,283.50 in funding to purchase materials for a butterfly garden as well as owl pellets.
Mountain Home Junior High
Mountain Home Junior High received $6,931.77 in funding to purchase AYSSP supplies.
Omaha Elementary School
Omaha Elementary School received $1,016.38 in funding to purchase materials to build an outdoor classroom/garden.
Alpena Public Schools
Alpena Public Schools received $1,087.87 in funding to purchase professionally tanned furs of furbearers native to Arkansas.
Mammoth Spring School District
Mammoth Spring School District received $2,277.60 in funding to purchase items to construct a walking trail: pea gravel, fabric and landscaping edging.
Salem High School
Salem High School received $2,413.31 in funding to purchase AYSSP materials.
Izard County Consolidated School District
The Izard County Consolidated School District received $1,515.60 in funding to purchase AYSSP supplies.
Calico Rock School District
The Calico Rock School District received $1,296.00 in funding for AYSSP supplies.
Jasper Elementary received $1,034.65 in funding to purchase materials for an outdoor classroom: Retaining wall blocks, twine, wooden stakes, landscape spray paint, shovel, rake, hose, mulch, soil, stepping stones and plants.
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