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Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov [TH]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — April 16, 2007

TPWD Grant Funds Programs To Connect Children With Nature

AUSTIN, Texas — Giving kids hands-on outdoor educational and recreational opportunities to help them connect with nature and improve test scores seems to be the common theme among this year’s recipients of Community Outdoor Outreach Program grants from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“Many organizations feel that today’s children are losing touch with nature and the environment,” said CO-OP Program Director Darlene Lewis, “and they are designing programs that help them and their parents reconnect with the outdoors.”

Since 1996, the CO-OP program funded grants to assist more than 400 organizations with money to help pay for equipment, transportation and materials to give children hands-on experiences. Currently, there is $470,000 per year available for the program. Grant applications are accepted Feb. 1 of each year. Grants range from $5,000 to $30,000.

The following organizations are this year’s recipients of the grant:

(Corpus Christi) Youth Odyssey — The Adventure Challenge program seeks to create behavior change through life-skills courses as well as outdoor adventure experiences such as rock climbing, kayaking and camping. ($28,150)

(Dallas) Dallas Bass Hookers – Minority youth will learn more about the sport of fishing, environmental conservation and safe practices at the Youth Fishing Derby. ($10,650)

(Dallas) Education in Action — Some 400 outstanding students from around the state will get the opportunity to develop their leadership roles in conserving and protecting wildlife and natural resources. ($30,000)

(Dallas) Freshwater Anglers Association Inc. — Some 2,000 students from inner-city Dallas will be transported from their urban environments into natural outdoor environments to gain awareness of the aquatic world. ($23,310)

(El Paso) Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe Inc. — At-risk youth will participate in camping, backpacking, outdoor cooking, fishing, and outdoor survival skills. ($29,000)

(Freeport) Boys & Girls Club of Brazoria County — 1300 youth will get hands-on environmental education experiences with field trips to Texas state parks and other wildlife facilities. Activities include birding, hiking, camping and kayaking. ($29,600)

(Georgetown) Williamson County Juvenile Services — An adventure-based counseling program for at-risk youth and their families. Outdoor learning experiences will include rock-climbing, kayaking, orienteering, outdoor safety and environmental education. ($25,235)

(Houston) Buffalo Bayou Partnership — Hands-on environmental education programs for community groups, teachers, students and civic leaders through interactive workshops and guided restoration projects. ($27,810)

(Houston) Youth Educational Support Services — 600 at-risk students from Galveston and Harris counties will participate in water-borne educational fieldtrips to study marine habitats and natural resources. ($30,000)

(La Grange) City of La Grange — Kindergarten –6th graders will head to the Great Outdoors Camp to gain a greater knowledge of careers available in the outdoors, a better awareness of conservation and a passion for outdoor activities. ($13,160)

(Port Arthur) Museum of the Gulf Coast — A free summer camp for elementary students from Port Arthur to learn about plant life, wildlife, weather, environmental issues, conservation, pollution and outdoor recreation. ($12,225)

(Round Mountain) Westcave Preserve Corporation — El Ranchito is a nature immersion camp designed to engage young inner-city children in the outdoors on this ecologically diverse private working ranch. (23,755.00)

(San Antonio) Audubon Texas — Underserved youth in San Antonio will take part in Nature of Learning, a hands-on science education program which teaches ecology, nature observation and identification and resource management. ($27,487)

(San Antonio) San Antonio Youth Centers — 300 inner city youth will experience nature through outdoor experiential learning. Activities include camping, backpacking, birding, hunting, fishing and more. ($29,900)

(San Antonio) Texas Wildlife Association Foundation Inc. — Some 250 youth from minority and low-income populations will receive partial or full hunting scholarships to participate in programs designed to preserve the hunting heritage in Texas. (30,000)

(San Marcos) San Marcos Lions Club — At-Risk students from schools in Hays, Caldwell, Bexar, Guadalupe and Travis counties will participate in the SMART Kids Program. (Stewards Mentoring Aquatic Resource Treasures) at Aquarena Springs. (28,750)

(Victoria) Victoria Boulevard Lions Club — Aquatic education programs and camp-out is planned for about 500 residents. Activities include camping, hiking, outdoor cooking ad boating safety/instruction. ($5,000)

To find out more about CO-OP grants, visit the TPWD Web site or contact the Recreation Grants Branch via e-mail at rec.grants@tpwd.texas.gov or by phone at (512) 912-7124.

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