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Thanks to wildlife violation fines collected by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services has awarded grants totaling $645,493.22 to promote wildlife education and improve school conservation programs to 206 schools, school districts and conservation districts in 68 Arkansas counties.
“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, but only money collected in the county where the violation occurred may be used as grant funds for that county.
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.
“As Arkansans, we are fortunate to live in a state with abundant wildlife and outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Clint O’Neal, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “Supporting programs that enhance education and outdoor activities for students is an important investment in the future of our state.”
Outdoor education plays a vital role in understanding the need for conservation and participation in the outdoors, according to Tabbi Kinion, AGFC chief of education.
“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.”
For more information, including a complete list of 2023 Game and Fish Wildlife Grant Award recipients and program narratives, visit https://www.arkansasedc.com/Rural-Services/division/grants/wildlife-education-grant.