Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

May 18, 2009

Refuge "Friends" Offer Grants for Field Trips to Refuges

Connecting children with nature is a major focus for national wildlife refuges today. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes the importance of getting kids out-of-doors, out into the natural environment with all of its wonders. Scientific studies have shown that spending time outside produces smarter, healthier, and happier children. Today, Stanley Oliver, president of the Board of Directors for the Coastal Wildlife Society announced the availability of a new educational grants program designed to assist schools with taking classes to experience Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. Letters were sent to teachers in Dare, Tyrrell, Hyde, Washington, Beaufort, Pamlico, Martin, Bertie, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, and Gates counties encouraging them to complete a simple application to request funding for refuge trips during the 2009/2010 school year.

Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges have lots to offer schools in terms of environmental education, wildlife trails and drives, interpretation, and just plain memorable outdoor experiences. Schools and other educational organizations are invited to bring classes to experience these national wildlife refuges. "Our hope is that they'll come back on their own and bring their families," commented Bonnie Strawser, Visitor Services Manager for the refuges.

The Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society is the nonprofit support group for Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. In an effort to assist area students learn about nature and experience the national wildlife refuges the Society has funded an educational grants program to pay for transportation and other costs associated with class field trips to Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. This also includes an open invitation to coordinate with refuge staff to have programs in the school as well. The process is simple and has been designed to allow as many classes as possible to benefit from a refuge experience.

Grant proposals may, for example, cover expenses for a class on a field trip to one of the refuges or for a year-long project that involves the refuges. Funds may be used to purchase special equipment, or to produce publications or presentations. Refuge staff are willing to work with you to develop and fund projects that work for your situation.

The main objective of the program is to encourage students to learn about and appreciate wildlife, habitat, and other natural resources. "We believe in experiential learning and support taking children out-of-doors," commented Society president Stanley Oliver. "And, we support teaching kids about these national wildlife refuges. I'd like to think that our group can play a small role in producing some managers and biologists for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service down the road! In several middle schools in Dare and Tyrrell counties, the Society has sponsored 'Junior Refuge Friends' clubs. We invite your school to form a group or club that would focus on building a relationship with your local national wildlife refuges."

The application is available at www.fws.gov/alligatorriver/grants.html.

For more information, contact Cindy Heffley at 252-987-1118 (cindy_heffley@fws.gov)

Photo Credits: FWS - Bonnie Strawser

Members of Cape Hatteras Secondary School and the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society are sitting together in a conference room with a pull-down projector screen
Cape Hatteras Secondary School students participating in the 2008/2009 Refuge Educational Grant program presented a summary of their work at a recent meeting of the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society Board of Directors. At the same meeting, the Board agreed to market a grants program for the 2009/2010 school year that will encourage other schools to build relationships with Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. For more information about the program, contact Visitor Services Specialist Cindy Heffley at 252-987-1118 (cindy_heffley@fws.gov)

Martha Howell smiling
At a recent meeting of the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society Board of Directors, new Board member Martha Howell was welcomed to the group. Martha will be serving as secretary for the Board. Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society is the nonprofit support group for Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. For information about how you may support these refuges, contact Refuge Volunteer Coordinator Abbey Reibel at 252-987-1118 (abbey_reibel@fws.gov)