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DNR offers grant for exceptional conservation teacher

SOCIAL CIRCLE The Nongame Conservation Section of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is offering a $1,000 grant to a Georgia third-, fourth- or fifth-grade public or private school teacher who demonstrates exceptional energy and innovation in teaching life sciences.

This opportunity is possible due to support from The Environmental Resource Network friends group of the Nongame Conservation Section.

Through education, research and management, the Nongame Conservation Section safeguards Georgia's native diversity of wild animals, plants and their habitats while also striving to increase public enjoyment of the outdoors. The purpose of the grant is to recognize and help an outstanding teacher who uses Georgia's nongame wildlife as the context for learning third-, fourth- or fifth-grade curriculum standards. Nongame wildlife refers to native animals that are not fished for or hunted and rare plants not harvested, such as gopher tortoises and Georgia aster.

"Students who learn about plants, wildlife and habitats often develop an appreciation for these diverse natural resources and are then motivated to be good stewards of the environment, not just during childhood but also as adults," said Linda May, DNR environmental outreach coordinator.

Previous grant recipients taught students how to contribute to healthy ecosystems through their everyday actions. At Barnett Shoals Elementary in Clarke County, Lori Jackson established a waste recycling program using lunchroom scraps. Shawna Babin and third-graders at Rocky Branch Elementary in Watkinsville explored soils, plant adaptations and habitat types using worm farms and greenhouses.

Last school year, students at Fowler Drive Elementary in Athens learned about the unique species that live in each of Georgia's six ecoregions with help from science teacher Halley Page.

Undergraduates from the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design also earned course credit by planting native coastal grasses, perennials and shrubs on the school's campus. That garden familiarizes schoolchildren with Georgia's coast and serves as a primer to an annual fifth-grade trip to Jekyll Island.

This fall, another teacher will be selected to receive funding based on project design and how well the grant proposal questions are answered. Projects that are especially creative and teach about Georgia's rare or endangered species, as well as those that can't be funded otherwise, will earn bonus points.

Details are available at www.georgiawildlife.com/education/educator-resources.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 16, 2013. DNR will notify the grant winner and award funding in October.

More information about the DNR grant opportunity is available by contacting Linda May at linda.may@dnr.state.ga.us or 706-557-3226 or Anna Yellin at anna.yellin@dnr.state.ga.us or 706-557-3283.