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Co-Op Grants Fund "Back To Nature" Efforts, Ike Recovery
AUSTIN, Texas — "Back to nature" seems to be the common theme among 17 recipients of Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP) grants offered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. TPWD this month awarded grants totaling more than $500,000 to school districts, cities, museums, youth groups, foundations and other groups in cities across Texas.
"So many organizations are realizing that reconnecting kids with nature and the outdoors could mean better test scores, healthier students and a better understanding of our environment," says Darlene Lewis, CO-OP program director in the department’s State Parks Division.
Lewis said some organizations are also using the grants as a chance to give back. Outdoor service projects planned include assisting communities and state parks which were damaged by Hurricane Ike by restoring trails and replanting trees.
Since 1996, the CO-OP program has helped more than 400 organizations with grant money to help pay for equipment, transportation and materials to give children hands-on outdoor learning experiences.
CO-OP grants are available to tax exempt organizations that want to focus on environmental education, conservation and outdoor recreation. Applicants can apply for up to $50,000 per grant. The next deadline to apply for a grant is Feb. 1, 2009.
Below is a list of grants awarded in the current round.
(Abilene) Abilene Independent School District — Abilene High School PALS Outdoor Adventure program will allow participants to experience fishing, camping, outdoor cooking, hiking and orienteering. ($49,250)
(Arlington) City of Arlington — Students and their families will get to participate in outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, camping and will take a trip to Big Bend National Park. ($29,620)
(Austin) Easter Seals Central Texas — Camping trips at Texas State Parks are planned for participants with disabilities. ($13,792)
(Austin) Gus Garcia Middle School PTA — Students and their families will participate in a series of one day planned events and activities, attend Texas Wildlife EXPO and participate in the Texas Outdoor Family camping programs. ($37,813)
(Austin) YMCA of Austin — 250 youth between the ages of 8 and 12 will learn about river habitats and the Edward’s Aquifer, attend Texas Wildlife EXPO and take river trips as part of their summer camping activities. ($39,330)
(Brenham) Brenham Independent School District — Students in grades 3-8 will visit Nails Creek State Park and work with Master Naturalists and TPWD staff to study plant and wildlife identification, orienteering and nature photography. ($8,204)
(Crockett) Katoya’s Playhouse, Inc. — 200 kids will get to learn about forestry, fishing, wildlife and outdoor skills while attending this day camp program. ($15,950)
(College Station) — Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation — 600 kids from urban and rural communities will learn more about Texas’ natural resources and conservation while having fun outdoors. Activities include archery, kayaking and outdoor journaling. ($38,615)
(Denton) Elm Fork Chapter Texas Master Naturalists — More than 400 Intermediate school children will learn about animal tracks, mammal skins, insects and wildflowers. ($10,990)
(Houston) Broadening Shoulders — "Our Own Backyard Recreation Program" will allow kids in the Houston area to experience nature in their normal urban environments. They will hike, fish, camp, cook outdoors and explore local landmarks. ($40,394)
(Houston) Redemption Community Development Corporation — More than 300 students will go birdwatching, fishing, camping, take trips to Texas State Parks and participate in an outdoor service project to help restore trails and replace trees damaged by Hurricane Ike. ($47,840)
(McKinney) Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary — More than 340 participants will learn about water safety, wetlands education and canoeing. ($49,683)
(Refugio) Refugio Independent School District — Students and their families will participate in a series of one day planned events and activities, attend Texas Wildlife EXPO and participate in the Texas Outdoor Family camping programs. ($39,988)
(Rockwall) Rockwall County Juvenile Services — 32 youth from this program will participate in CPR and First Aid training, camping trips to state parks and a service project to help clean up and restore the lake at Tawakoni State Park. ($16,798)
(San Antonio) Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio — This 10 week program will include archery programs, trips to the Botanical Gardens as well as Big Bend National Park and Texas Wildlife EXPO. ($28,000)
(Stephenville) Stephenville Independent School District — This Outdoor Adventure Education Program targets students in grades 9-12 and is designed to provide outdoor educational experiences while promoting ecological awareness. Activities include archery, boating, angler education and orienteering. ($21,158)
(Tyler) Camp Tyler Foundation — Children who participate in this camp will enjoy hiking, outdoor cooking, canoeing and fishing. ($20,698)
For more information about CO-OP grants, contact the department’s Recreation Grants Branch at (512) 389-8224 or visit the grants web page on the TPWD Web site.
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