The Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services has awarded grants totaling $502,838.41 to promote wildlife education and improve school conservation programs to 183 schools, school districts, and conservation districts in 65 Arkansas counties.
The grants are funded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission 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.
“Contrary to what some Arkansans may think, the AGFC never sees a single penny from citations our officers write,” AGFC Director Austin Booth said. “Instead, that money is invested in the children of that county to help instill that love of the outdoors that makes Arkansans unique.”
All schools in the state are eligible to participate in the program. The funding has helped schools create and maintain archery, fishing, and competitive shooting sports programs. Schools also have used 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 have used the funding to help promote wildlife conservation awareness in the communities by hosting environmental education days and fishing derbies for children of all ages.
“Arkansans are fortunate to live in a state with abundant wildlife and outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “There is so much we can learn just by getting out and experiencing the wonders found in nature all around us. These grants not only help broaden minds and economic development, but they also provide opportunities for volunteerism and community involvement, all of which make us a more attractive state for business and pleasure.”
Outdoor education plays a vital role in understanding the need for conservation and participation in the outdoors, according to AGFC Chief of Education Tabbi Kinion.
“The AGFC is happy to partner with Rural Services on this program,” Kinion said. “Thousands of Arkansas students will be outdoors or having hands-on experiences in nature centers, learning and perfecting skills. These grants offer the opportunity to learn about wildlife habitat and conservation as part of the Arkansas school experience.”
Grant awards in Southeast Arkansas
The Crossett School District received $5,578.61 in funding to purchase AYSSP materials.
The Hermitage High School received $1,567.50 in funding for AYSSP materials.
The L’Aigle Creek CD received $1,567.50 in funding to purchase AYSSP materials.
The Lakeside School District received $5,053.48 in funding for FINS equipment to include: Rods and Reels, hooks, ice chest, folding chairs and bottled water.
The Drew County Conservation District received $2,197.42 to purchase materials for project WHEP.
The Drew County Conservation District received $1,432.70 to purchase ANASP materials.
The Star City School District received $1,454.15 in funding to purchase an outdoor event tent and fake grass for an outdoor classroom.