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Grant puts regional wildlife in the hands of 4-H campers

nature2-webCanter’s Cave 4-H Camp in Jackson County recently received a $2,200 grant to support science and nature education as part of the 2007 Fostering Access to Education Mini-Grant program in Appalachian Ohio.

The camp is one of 17 grantees receiving a total of $70,000 in funding that has been awarded to the area nonprofits through the mini-grants program, a partnership between the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville (OHFN), the Ohio Children’s Foundation (OCF) and the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO).

“The grant for the nature center will mean a lot to the kids,” said Tracy Winters, 4-H extension educator for Gallia County. “Without funding, it’s hard to do.”

Canter’s Cave, established in 1949, serves nine counties in Southeast Ohio for their local 4-H camps. The camp is held at the 300-acre Elizabeth L. Evans Outdoor Education Center, which is owned and operated by Canter’s Cave and located in the heart of southeastern Ohio. The camp is named for the Bob Evans family, major financial supporters of the camp. Bob Evans, a famous restaurateur and Gallipolis native, also was one of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio’s original I’m a Child of Appalachia™ honorees in 2005.

More than 2,000 4-H participants ages 8–18 take part in the center’s 4-H camping programs each year. The grant will be used to develop and improve a science and nature-based curriculum with exhibits, displays and activities for campers in the camp’s Jewell Evans Nature Center.

Camp staff will use the mini-grant, along with matching funds, to create educational features to enhance the nature center and make it self-exploratory for campers, outside groups and visiting school children. The 4-H camp theme for 2007 is “Our Camp, Our World,” and the nature curriculum will reflect that focus by highlighting local wildlife species, said Travis West, 4-H extension educator for Vinton County.

“We are trying to pull the old and new pieces of the nature center together and utilize equipment to create a hands-on curriculum,” said West. “I think the program should be a tie-in to school activities, which also helps ascertain the validity of the program.”

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio is the managing partner for the mini-grants initiative and is a 501(c)(3) public charity and regional community foundation.
FAO’s mission is to enrich the current and future quality of life in the 29 counties of Appalachian Ohio by fostering access to opportunity.

2007 is the third year for the regional partnership and mini-grants program. Past distributions have focused on improving quality of life and access to opportunity in Appalachian Ohio. Since the program’s inception in 2004, more than $213,000 has been awarded to regional non-profits. Projects were recommended for funding by the FAO Grants and Program Advisory Committee, which was comprised of 11 leaders from the region. Many grantees also are able to use the mini-grant dollars to leverage more funding for their programs.

For more information on Canter’s Cave 4-H Camp, please contact Anita Harris, executive director, at 740-286-4058 or eleoec4h@bright.net.