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More than $808,000 is available for Arkansas schools and educators for conservation education grants in 2022-23, thanks to fine money derived from wildlife and fishing violations and a partnership between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services.
Teachers and administrators may apply for a special conservation education grant through AEDC at www.arkansasedc.com/rural-services/division/grants/wildlife-education-grant. The amount of money available in each county is based upon the fines collected in that county and any unused funds from previous years. Any school or conservation district in Arkansas may apply for these grants, regardless of size or population. All applications must be received by Oct. 27 to be considered.
Fines from wildlife violations are not used for vehicles, salaries or other operations conducted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. It never really leaves the county where it was collected. Instead, those dollars are given back to schools and educators. The Rural Services Division of AEDC administers those grants for conservation education in each county.
AGFC Chief of Education Tabbi Kinion says the grants can really enhance learning opportunities for youth, especially in some rural areas of Arkansas, where education dollars are at a premium.
“Many programs the AGFC promotes, such as Archery in the Schools, Project WILD, and Fishing in the Natural State, can be funded through these grants,” Kinion said. “But they can also be used to purchase equipment unique to conservation education and even help offset the costs of field trips to AGFC nature centers, hatcheries and other outdoors learning opportunities.”
Kinion says all AGFC nature centers are free to the public, and through these education grants, educators can even find funds to help offset some travel expenses to get the kids to their learning destination.
Visit www.agfc.com/conservationgrants for more information on the program, a link to the application site and a county-by-county list of grant money available.