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‘Ding’ awards $11K in school conservation education grants

By Staff | Nov 30, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Front row, Lee County environmental education specialist Susie Hassett; Cassandra Duke and Megan Hull, Gulf Middle; second row, Lori Shaw, Cape High; Julie Stephens, Royal Palm Exceptional School; third row, Jill Whitewood, Cypress Lake Middle; Michelle Start, Lehigh Acres Middle; fourth row, Linda Grant, Alejandra Matos, and Laine Holt from Patriot Elementary, back, refuge Conservation Educator Sara Hallas and DDWS Education Committee Chair Wendy Kindig.

The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge awarded $11,000 in grants on Nov. 28 to conservation education-related projects at nine different schools in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties for the 2018-2019 school year.

Teachers submitted grant applications to the DDWS Environmental Education Committee, and the committee chose awards based on need and relevance to conservation.

Schools awarded grants this year include Cape Coral High for its “Bees & Butterflies Sanctuary” project, Neil Armstrong Elementary in Port Charlotte for its “Our Community Garden” project, Gulf Middle School in Cape Coral for its “Urban Gardening” project, Lee County district-wide environmental education for a “Breakout of the Box” learning tool, Royal Palm Exceptional School Center in Fort Myers for its “Enviro-Art” project, Cypress Lakes Middle School in Fort Myers for its “Inform, Educate & Inspire” project, Edison Park Creative & Expressive Arts School in Fort Myers for its “Creating Environmental Stewards in Kindergarten” project, Patriot Elementary School in Cape Coral for its “The Insect-Plant Connection” project, and Lehigh Acres Middle School for its “The Importance of Bees” project.

“This is the 13th year the society has awarded these conservation teacher grants,” Environmental Education Committee Chair Wendy Kindig said. “To date, we have awarded more than $86,000 this year’s in teacher grants. We were impressed by the wide variety of projects our teachers and their students imagined this year. The society is pleased to help the future of conservation stewards in this important way.”

Grant recipients report back on their projects to the DDWS and J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, sending pictures and often thank you notes from students, upon project completion in June.

In 2019, DDWS will again award grants to districts, schools and individual teachers in Lee, Charlotte, and Collier. The grants are funded by monies received from the DDWS Conservation Education Endowment Fund earmarked specifically for education by the late Kip Koss, grandson of Jay N. “Ding” Darling.

For information on next year’s grants, contact Conservation Educator Sara Hallas at 239-472-1100 ext. 236 or Kindig at wendykindig@aol.com, or visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/teacher-grants.

Those interested in supporting conservation education at “Ding” Darling can visit dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at director@dingdarlingsociety.org.