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CO-OP Grants Help Kids Get Outdoors, Despite Economic Times
AUSTIN — As organizations across the nation face budget cuts, groups in Austin, Dallas, Brownsville, San Antonio, Houston and other cities are still finding ways to get more kids and their families outdoors. Sixteen such organizations have been awarded grants from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to introduce participants to environmental education, conservation and outdoor recreation.
"Not only are these participants experiencing education and fun in the outdoors, many are also participating in outdoor service projects which will benefit state and local communities," said Darlene Lewis, Community Outdoor Outreach Program coordinator with TPWD in Austin.
Funds for the CO-OP grant program come from a portion of state sales tax attributed to sporting goods. Such funding allows tax-exempt organizations and local governments to provide outdoor recreation and environmental education activities to participants who may not otherwise be able to do so. A total of $1.25 million is available each year and is given out in two funding cycles, with application deadlines Oct. 1 and Feb. 1.
Below are organizations receiving grants in the current round, listed by city.
(Austin) — American Youthworks — More than 250 drop-outs who have decided to return to school will participate in the Service and Outdoor Leadership program which will occur in local, state and national parks. Projects include trash pick-up, trail building and habitat restoration. ($50,000)
(Austin) — Campfire USA — Children and their families from school districts and housing communities will learn about conservation and participate in outdoor recreational activities such as fishing, backpacking, camping and outdoor cooking. Service projects include building and installing birdhouses in Travis County. ($36,290)
(Beaumont) — Environmental Learning & Research Center — The Neches River will be the classroom for student and teacher workshops where water quality testing will be conducted. Cleaning up litter along the river will be the outdoor service project. ($28,001)
(Bloomington) — Bloomington ISD — Fishing, camping, outdoor cooking and orienteering are just a few of the activities to be experienced by students and their families in this district. ($44,166)
(Brownsville) Texas Southmost College — College mentors will partner with high school students in the Lower Rio Grande Valley to introduce them to kayaking, biking, birding and state park visits. (42,844)
(Cleveland) Wright-Way Community Development Center — 250 students in the Cleveland and Liberty communities will get a chance to experience overnight camping, fishing, kayaking and environmental education programs. ($43,333)
(Dallas) — Launching A Dream, Inc. — 250 low income students will get to go hiking, fishing, camping and backpacking. ($30,250)
(Dallas) Student Conservation Association, Inc. — High school students from Dallas and Houston will provide 500 hours of service to state and local land management partners. Students will experience nature photography, canoeing, birding and camping. ($38,510)
(Dallas) — Today Foundation — 193 Karnack ISD students and their families will participate in the Healthy Habitats program at Caddo Lake. Activities include camping, canoeing, Project Wild, Texas Outdoor Family and inventorying invasive plants in the Caddo area and replacing them with native plants. (47,233)
(Groesbeck) Old Fort Parker Inc. — Students from four different schools and two scout groups will get to experience Pioneer and Indian life during a campout at the park. They will fish, learn about shooting sports, and cook outdoors. ($25,356)
(Houston) — Houston Parks and Recreation — The Houston Parks Adventure will target minority youth, women and seniors. They will be exposed to nature education, conservation and outdoor recreation. ($46,500)
(Houston) — Precinct2gether — Kids in this summer youth program will take trips to several state historic parks/sites, go fishing and observe wildlife. ($42,773)
(Houston) — Youth Outdoor Unity — Students and their families will participate in trail rides, backpacking and outdoor cooking. Their service project will include trail maintenance and restoring native grass prairie at Sheldon Lake State Park. ($48,829)
(San Antonio) — City Kids Adventures — Nearly 400 students will have an opportunity to experience archery, overnight camping in state parks, kayaking, offshore fishing and mountain biking. ($40,279)
(San Antonio) — San Antonio River Authority — Students in the San Antonio school districts will get hands-on experiences that will teach them about the function of a naturally restored ecosystem. Activities include geocaching, birding, hiking and an outdoor service project. ($13,295)
(Terrell) Turning POINT — Physically challenged participants and their families will get to kayak, fish, camp, learn about water safety, ecology and conservation. ($44,673)
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