Healthy Habitat Grants Available for Texas Schools …Student Projects Will Help Implement Texas Wildlife Action Plan

AUSTIN, Texas – The call is going out to public and private/nonprofit middle and high schools across the state: Texas Healthy Habitats Grants of up to $15,000 are now available from the Texas Center for Service-Learning, with applications due June 19. The grants will support students doing service-learning projects to benefit wildlife and the environment, made possible with a donation from EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

The grants program envisions students partnering with communities and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff and other experts to identify conservation needs and work together to come up with solutions. The students will address priorities in the Texas Wildlife Action Plan, a blueprint to “keep common species common” and avoid more species from becoming threatened and endangered.

The program builds on an existing partnership between TPWD and the Texas Center for Service-Learning (TCSL), a statewide initiative of the Texas Education Agency and the Region 14 Education Service Center. The center improves student achievement through service-learning, which integrates community service with academic success.

“Service-learning inspires students to learn,” said John Spence, TCSL director. “Because the projects are designed by the students, this generates buy-in. Kids show up early and stay late to see their projects through. Teachers connect the project to their TEKS objectives, so projects help meet state education standards. Community experts are invited into the process, so the school-community relationship is strengthened.”

Grant applications will be accepted through Friday, June 19. For assistance, applicants are invited to participate in Webinars hosted by TxCSL at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, April 23 and 11:30 a.m., Friday, May 22. Complete information is on the center’s Web site, including grant application instructions and downloadable forms.

Through grant projects, students will draw on TPWD educational resources and use comprehensive service-learning standards to research and define a local environmental issue, investigate public and organizational policies related to the issue, design and implement a service-learning project in collaboration with at least two community partners (including TPWD staff), evaluate and publicize the results to public officials and community members, and develop Web profiles for each project that will be integrated into the TPWD and TCSL Web sites.

Grant applicants may ask for up to $15,000. The money may be used for supplies, substitutes, transportation and training. Requirements include a progress report and a final report, as well as evidence of impact, a Web profile of the work, and one day of training for grant recipients in Austin in August, before school starts. Program organizers expect students will likely plan projects in fall and do field work in spring.

Eligible schools include public (including charter) and private nonprofit schools (grades 6-12) applying to coordinate service-learning projects in a public, charter, or private institution, or nonprofit youth-serving organizations that work with public middle or high schools. Schools must have a Tax ID and be a middle or high school located in Texas. Private schools and nonprofits must have IRS 501(c)(3) status. Nonprofits applying for the grant must be working with students in middle or high school levels to qualify.

Earlier this year, EnCana donated $486,000 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The donations supports the Healthy Habitats grants program, plus two other projects—control of giant salvinia and other invasive plants choking Toledo Bend reservoir in East Texas, and facilities for the new Texas Game Warden Training Center in Hamilton County.

Since 1991, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has been the official non-profit partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. By bringing together companies, corporations, communities and individuals, the foundation has raised more than $60 million benefiting a wide variety of projects.

EnCana is one of North America’s largest independent natural gas producers. The company has a long history of supporting conservation and education causes. For the past two years EnCana has been on both the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the North American Index. Inclusion in these groups demonstrates high environmental, social, and business standards.