Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday (Oct. 9) and officials with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission presented a check for $600,079 to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Rural Services Division to be used by Arkansas schools and conservation districts through the Game and Fish Wildlife Conservation Education Grant Program.
The funds are available through fines assessed from infractions of state laws protecting game, fish, and other wildlife into grant funds for school conservation education programs. Schools and conservation districts in all 75 counties are eligible, and available funds for each county directly correlate to the amount of fines collected in that county.
“Wildlife conservation is essential to our state’s economic health,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “People from all over the world travel to rural areas throughout Arkansas to enjoy our hunting and fishing opportunities, and we want to ensure that we maintain and preserve our resources for many generations.”
Eligible programs include, but are not limited to, the study of general fish and wildlife conservation issues, Project WILD Workshops, Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program, Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs, Arkansas Stream Team, School Yard Habitat Site Development, and specialized AGFC conservation education/educator training workshops. Funds may also be used by educators to take students on field trips to AGFC Nature Centers, Conservation Education Centers, and Wildlife Management Areas.
“Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is in the conservation education business. The use of fine money for local schools allows students to take advantage of the programs funded through the conservation tax, and that is a win-win,” said AGFC Chief of Staff Jeff Crow.
“Wildlife conservation and ecology begins in our schools,” said Alex Johnston, director of AEDC’s Rural Services Division. “We need to educate our children about the fish and wildlife we have here in Arkansas so that they can appreciate our natural treasures and carry on our conservation efforts.”