The Sly Park Environmental Education Center has been named a recipient of a $45,000 Youth in Wilderness Grant from the Sierra Club and Sierra Club Foundation. The Environmental Education Center, operated by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) since 1970, is located in the El Dorado National Forest and serves more than 9,000 students each year.
According to Principal Stephen "Hoppy" Hopkins, the grant will be used to provide scholarships for Sacramento-area sixth-grade students to attend the weeklong program. Sly Park was selected for the grant for its California State education frameworks-based curriculum, which covers "habitat interpretation, site evaluations, wetland observation, flora and fauna identification and documentation, ecological assessment, and techniques for evaluating human impact on the forest ecosystem."
The grant was announced on May 11 at a news conference held at Sacramento's Discovery Museum in Sacramento. "These funds will provide quality experiences in nature for 7,800 disadvantaged youth who otherwise would not have access to the outdoors," said Jackie McCourt, Coordinator of the Youth in Wilderness Project. The Youth in Wilderness Project is a new joint program of the Sierra Club and the Sierra Club Foundation to provide outdoor learning and wilderness opportunities for low income youth in Northern California. Through this project, $650,000 in grants are being awarded to schools, residential camps and other organizations serving youth.
In an interview with KFBK reporter Marseilles Chavez, Principal Hopkins emphasized how students benefit both academically and socially from participating in the Sly Park Environmental Education program.
Studies cited by the Sierra Club show that outdoor education benefits include improved attitude, better attendance in the classroom, and the acquisition of many of the necessary life skills needed to survive in today's world. Children who have been in outdoor education programs also have higher test scores, and teachers report that students' behavior often improves, according to the Sierra Club.
Other Grants Awarded to Sacramento-Area Programs
Discovery Museum, Sacramento
- Habitat Kids
- Grant Award: $30,000
To provide hands-on environmental activities for third and fourth grade students from Father Keith B. Kenny Elementary School (Sacramento City Unified School District).
La Vista Center (San Juan USD)
- Students Adopting Parkway and Shorelines (SAPS)
- Grant Award: $1,668
To enable students, ages 10-20, at La Vista Center to build cedar-strip canoes and take weekly field trips to the American River for hands-on environmental education and native plant restoration projects.
Nicholas Elementary School (Sacramento City USD)
- Sly Park 2000
- Grant Award: $4,620
To enable students, ages 11-13, to attend the one-week program at Sly Park Environmental Education Center
A listing of grant recipients and criteria for funding proposals are available from the Sierra Club, (415) 977-5727, 85 Second Street, Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441.