Since 2001 “Friends of LBL” has partnered with Murray State University’s Center for Environmental Education and the USDA Forest Service to bring over 9,000 students to Land Between The Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area. This year the Calloway County Homemakers have joined the partnership.
Through the School Field Trip Grant program, the group is distributing over $25,000 to off-set the costs of educational field trips to LBL. The program started in 2001 with combined funds from the three initial partners of $5,000. In the first year fewer than fifteen groups applied for grants. All applications were approved allowing over 1500 students to have an educational experience at LBL. Over seventy schools applied for grants representing over 5000 students in 2006. A total of more than $45,000 was requested. All applications were reviewed by committee with sixty three grants being awarded for a funding totaling of $25,250.
Approval of the 63 grants will mean that 4181 students from schools in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee will have an opportunity to visit Land Between The Lakes and participate in astronomy, natural science, history and environmental education programs. The grants will help defray transportation and program expenses for the groups. The School Field Trip Grant program is open to any public school within a one hundred mile radius of LBL.
John Rufli, Executive Director of the “Friends of LBL” stated, “I believe I speak for all the partners in the School Field Trip Grant program when I say we are very pleased we have been able to come together to provide this unique educational opportunity to so many young people.”
He went on to say, “LBL offers a learning environment significantly different from the classroom setting. Many of the programs in which these students participate will be hands on and give them a completely different perspective on the subject matter.”
Joe Baust, Director of the Center for Environmental Education at MSU, had the following comments in regard to the program. “Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods says that children need to experience the out-of-doors as a critical part of their early life. Not only is it physically and emotionally healthful for children to be in the natural world, but it gives them a sense of value; a sense of connection that so often is missing in the lives of our young people.
“Friends of LBL”, the Center for Environmental Education at Murray State University, and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service have collaborated to encourage teachers and schools to visit the outdoors at LBL through the grants program that has supported visitation by more than 9,000 students. This is making a difference in the lives of children within a 100 mile radius of LBL and is giving them a “Sense of Place” using the extraordinary resources of the Land Between the Lakes.
In short, this program not only will connect young people to the land and to LBL, but will also provide them with a connection to what they learn in the classroom. The outcome will be better test scores and better grades.”
Rufli concluded by saying, “Our desire is to fully fund all qualified applications. In order to do this in the future, we will need more partners as the ability of the current partners to contribute is at its limit.” He went on, “We hate to see deserving students not be able to take advantage of the outstanding learning experience LBL offers, but at this time we have no choice.”
For more information on how the apply for a grant or become a partner to the School Field Trip Grant program contact Rufli at “Friends of LBL”, 345 Maintenance Road, Golden Pond, KY 42211 or call 270-924-2077. You can learn more about the program and “Friends of LBL” at their website www.friendsoflbl.org.