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February 21, 2007

Three DeSoto County projects were awarded Community Education Grants from the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The grants, which are up to $5,000 each, will help fund projects that provide communities the opportunity to learn about water resources.

This year the District awarded 49 grants Districtwide for a total of $171,444. This is the 10th year Community Education Grants have been available.

The overall goal of the Community Education Grant Program is to actively engage adults in water-related issues pertaining to conservation, protection and preservation. Funded by the District’s Basin Boards, the program is intended to motivate communities to get involved in water protection through various activities and educational formats.

The following projects are funded by the Peace River Basin Board, which includes portions of Charlotte, Hardee, DeSoto, Highlands, and Polk counties.

DeSoto County will receive $3,300 for interpretive signage associated with the Peace River Nature workshops. A series of four workshops will be presented to residents of DeSoto County. The first three workshops will focus on facets that contribute to the health of the Peace River system; the fourth will focus on the human impacts in the watershed. Interpretive signs will also be created to educate visitors to county parks, and field guides will be made available to the public through the park library. The workshops will initially reach 30 participants, with an additional 20,000 park visitors reached through signage and field guides.

The Natures Way Aquatic Farm will receive $1,200 to conduct tours that educate students and raise public awareness of the hydrological cycle and the need for water conservation. This will be achieved through teacher lesson plans and a scale model experiment of an aquaculture farm with natural filtration. In addition, walking tours of the farm will be offered with activity worksheets, multimedia presentations and lectures. The goal is to encourage students to be more conscientious about water usage and participate in the stewardship of Floridas water resources. This project will potentially reach 1,000 people.

The following project is funded by the Peace River Basin Board and the Manasota Basin Board, which includes Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The Herald-Tribune Media Group will receive $2,500 for the “Newspapers In Education” (NIE) Program. Through two separate 16-page tabloids, the paper’s NIE program will teach students and subscribers about estuaries and wetlands. The tabloids will feature information on major wetlands and estuaries around the world, and then compare them to local estuaries and wetlands. The project will reach 200,000 people in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties, with the goal of showing them how to get involved in protecting and preserving wetlands and estuaries.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s 2008 Community Education Grant Program will begin its application process in June of this year if funding is approved by the Basin Boards. To be added to the mailing list to receive the 2008 application, call the District’s Communications Department at 1-800-423-1476 or 352-796-7211, ext. 4757.

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