LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (January 13, 2021) – The Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services has awarded grants totaling $536,401.58 to promote wildlife education and improve school conservation programs to 150 schools, school districts, and conservation districts in 65 Arkansas counties. The grant program is funded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) 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.
All schools in the state are eligible to participate in the program. The funding schools have received in previous years has helped create and maintain archery, fishing, and competitive shooting sports programs. Schools also use 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 use the funding to help promote wildlife conservation awareness in the communities by hosting environmental education days and fishing derbies for children of all ages.
“This year more than ever, we are seeing the benefits of getting out and enjoying the wildlife that we often take for granted,” said Secretary of Commerce and AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston. “The Wildlife Education program enhances educational opportunities by getting kids out of the classroom and into the world in their own backyards. AEDC is excited to be part of this opportunity that not only enhances education and economic development, but also volunteerism and community involvement for Arkansans of all ages.”
Outdoor education plays a vital role in understanding the need to encourage a more viable existence for Arkansas’ youth, according to AGFC Chief of Education Tabbi Kinion.
“By understanding habitat and resource management, we hope to develop a connection between the state’s youth and our wonderful natural resources,” she explained.
Some schools’ projects funded in part by the grant include gardening supplies and equipment, materials to build a beaver dam, birding supplies, recycling bins for recreational areas, and supplies for science labs and outdoor classrooms. For more information, including a complete list of award recipients and program narratives, visit https://www.arkansasedc.com/Rural-Services/division/grants/grant-recipients.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), a division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce, seeks to create economic opportunity by attracting higher-paying jobs, expanding and diversifying local economies in the state, increasing incomes and investment, and generating growth throughout The Natural State. Arkansas is a pro-business environment operating leaner, faster and more focused through a streamlined state government designed to act on corporate interests quickly and decisively. For more information, visit www.ArkansasEDC.com. The Arkansas Department of Commerce is the umbrella department for workforce and economic development drivers. Its divisions and regulatory boards include Division of Aeronautics, Waterways Commission, Wine Producers Council, Division of Workforce Services, Office of Skills Development, State Bank Department, Insurance Department, Securities Department, Economic Development Commission and Development Finance Authority. It was established July 2019 as part of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s wide-sweeping efficiency and transformation efforts to reduce 42 cabinet agencies to 15 while maintaining services for all Arkansans.