SOUTH BELOIT - Area nature centers are partnering to help teachers secure field trip funding for a full day of nature-based education.
With tightening school budgets, Nature at the Confluence, the Sand Bluff Bird Observatory and the Welty Environmental Center are offering four dates for free, two-hour grant application writing sessions to help teachers get up to $700 in Target Stores Field Trip Grant funds. Therese Oldenburg, executive director at Nature at Confluence, said the grants can be used to fund transportation, admissions and supplies for spring 2019 field trips for second-fifth grade students.
"It can be overwhelming applying for grants, and we want to make it easy," Oldenburg said.
She said the nature centers are offering a package deal, where students could spend half a day at Sand Bluff learning about birds and the second half day at Nature at the Confluence, where confluence and Welty staff will educate students.
"Teachers may have some different academic goals to pick from, and we can help them do that," Oldenburg said.
A typical group program at Sand Bluff will include a presentation about the avian research, ecology and specific bird species, seeing wild migratory birds, observing the collection of data about wild birds and a short hike to observe the field research process. Program options at the Confluence and Welty Center include Monarch Magic, where kids will learn about monarch butterfly conservation and life cycle; watershed education; macroinvertebrate investigation or a program tailored to teacher's needs.
During the grant application writing session, teachers will be provided information about the organizations including how programming could meet state standards, help with phrasing, brainstorming and other assistance. Oldenburg said it also helps to have the field trip already planned out when applying for the grant, which is exactly what the nature centers are offering.
"School budgets aren't really covering class trips any longer, so if children are going to take their kids to outdoor nature centers this is a great way to get funding for that," Oldenburg said.
The session dates are from 10 a.m. - noon on Aug. 11, from 4 - 6 p.m. on Aug. 15, from 10 a.m. - noon on Sept. 8 and from 5 - 7 p.m. on Sept. 19. The grant writing sessions will be held at Nature At The Confluence Learning Center, 306 Dickop St., South Beloit.
Teachers can register online at this link: www.natureattheconfluence.com/grant. Registration is encouraged.