The Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services has awarded $531,602 in grants to promote wildlife education and improve school conservation programs to 253 schools and conservation districts in 71 Arkansas counties.

Southeast Arkansas grant recipients are:

Ashley County
Hamburg-Noble Allbritton Elementary $2,120.79
Portland Elementary School $1,100

Bradley County
L’Aigle Creek Conservation District $3,360

Chicot County
Lakeside School District $13,128.98

Cleveland County
Kingsland Elementary School $889.53
Rison High School $4,000
Rison High School $6,102.29
Rison High School $10,000
Woodlawn High School $1,790.98

Desha County
McGehee High School $5,943
Connor Middle School $6,376
Cornerstone Christian Academy $7,804.97

Drew County
Drew Central High School $5,452.28
Drew Central Middle School $629.62

Lincoln County
Star City Middle School $4,848

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.

“Now, more than ever, quality of life plays a larger role in where people look for jobs and raise their families,” said AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston. “This is a great opportunity for our state, as several of the programs funded through the Wildlife Education grant improve educational opportunities while promoting volunteerism and community involvement, all of which contribute to stronger communities.”

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.

Complete list of award recipients.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) was created in 1955 to make Arkansas more competitive in the post-World War II era, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) seeks to create economic opportunity by attracting higher-paying jobs, expanding and diversifying local economies in the state, increasing incomes and investment, and generating positive growth throughout The Natural State. Arkansas is a pro-business environment operating leaner, faster and more focused through a streamlined state government designed to act on corporate interests quickly and decisively.

Pictured above are students interacting with turtles at the Forest Wood Nature Center in Jonesboro, one of nine centers around the state dedicated to hands-on experience and education.