Each year since 2005, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, in partnership with the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS), has awarded conservation grants to local teachers for science projects related to studying the environment.
For the 2021-22 school year, the Environmental Education Grant Program created “Pocket Refuges” at eight Lee County district schools to teach students about the importance of pollinators and the habitat that sustains them. Working with district Environmental Education Resource Susan Hassett, DDWS distributed a total of $12,000 ($1,500 to each of the schools) to buy supplies to create native pollinator gardens from a menu of native plants, bird houses, trail cameras, solar-powered fountains, and other enhancements. Schools submitted proposals for building their gardens, which were to be completed by May 2022, and maintaining them for two years.
“Besides teaching kids the importance of pollinators, the ‘Pocket Refuges’ are being used as mini field trips outside the classroom, where teachers can address different class subjects in an experiential way,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland, who helped coordinate the project.
In the 2023-2024 school year, the "Ding" Darling again offer grants to five schools in Lee County. Interested schools (grades K-12) may apply until the deadline of October 31, 2023. Selections will be made in November. Applications will open August 2.
If you have questions, please direct them to Nancy Felker, Chair of the DDWS Education Committee, or Susie Hassett, Lee County School District Environmental Resource Teacher. To apply for a Pocket Refuge Grant, please click HERE.