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Grants Awarded to Youth Conservation Programs

South Dakota youth will have numerous opportunities for hands-on experience with outdoors and conservation projects thanks in part to grants from the Tony and Dar Dean Outdoor Education Fund. Four projects will receive financial support from the fund this year.

The fund was established following the 2008 death of well-known outdoor broadcaster and writer Tony Dean of Pierre. The program honors both Tony and his wife Dar Dean. She is an outdoor enthusiast with a strong commitment to getting youth involved in outdoor and conservation activities.

The four programs which will receive grants this year are:

· The South Dakota Wildlife Federation Youth Conservation Camp Wilderness Day on the Prairie has been awarded a $1,300 grant. The Youth Conservation Camp allows youth to experience many aspects of the outdoors. The Wilderness Day on the Prairie portion of the camp will be held at French Creek Campground in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands near Hermosa. Participants will learn about the plants and fauna that grow on the wild prairies of South Dakota, and will learn the use of hand held GPS units. During the conservation camp, youth also learn conservation practices, stream fishing, insect identification, stream ecology, bird basics, wildlife photography, deer and elk tracking, turkey calling, and shooting skills.

· The Pierre School District has received a $1,250 grant. Amber Stout’s third grade class will receive instruction on the outdoors and the conservation of habitat and wildlife. Students learn about native species of birds and fish, incubate pheasant eggs, and release the birds, gaining a better understanding of wildlife management, habitats, and animal adaptations.

· Stanley County School District has received a $600 grant: Amanda Remick’s “Trout in the Classroom” project will involve setting up an aquarium, and raising 100 rainbow trout eggs into fingerlings that will be released into local waterways. Students are in charge of the tank and its maintenance. They engage in stream habitat study, learn to identify fish and wildlife species, and learn firsthand about the development of fish, what they need to survive and thrive, and the importance of water quality.

· The Beadle County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League has received a $500 grant.The funding will be used for the First Annual Izaak Walton Family Fishing Fun Day at Ravine Lake in Huron. This new project aims to get youth interested in fishing through a fun outdoor experience. Volunteers will mentor youngsters on fishing techniques, and fishing equipment will be provided to the young participants.

Dar Dean applauded the recipient groups for their work in getting the next generation actively engaged in outdoor and conservation experiences.

“If we want to preserve our outdoor heritage, we have to teach the youth how important it is,” she said. “Kids need to understand that they need to take care of our natural resources. Parents don’t always have the time or ability to provide that education. These programs are a good way to educate kids about why we need to preserve what we have, and how to take care of these resources.”

Applications will be available in early 2014 for the next round of grants through the Tony and Dar Dean Outdoor Education Fund.

The fund works in cooperation with the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation. It is part of the Tony Dean’s Acres project, which has purchased land in South Dakota for wildlife management and public access.

Both the Tony and Dar Dean Outdoor Education Fund and the Tony Dean’s Acres project are ongoing efforts, and tax-deductible contributions are welcome. For more information, visit www.parkswildlifefoundation.org