"Never underestimate ingenuity and innovation. The approaches that will help us tackle the enormous environmental challenges confronting us today are going to come from unlikely and unpredictable places," said Audubon President David Yarnold. "Each Innovation Grant project is an opportunity for Audubon to partner with local organizations to test and implement creative approaches to build healthier communities and achieve significant conservation results. And as our alliance with Toyota shows, when organizations work together, we can exponentially magnify our impact."
With an emergency TogetherGreen grant from the summer of 2011, Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center was able to provide kids in need after the Joplin tornado with free camps and nature programs throughout the summer. The camps gave the kids opportunities to discover the healing power of nature-and their parents valuable time to tackle the daunting job of post-storm clean-up.
As the grant year progresses, Wildcat Glades will also be able to provide kids from high-poverty schools in the area with valuable education programs focused on water quality and conservation. Kids will learn how to create rain gardens, havens for native plants that will hold on to storm water and reduce flooding and pollution in nearby streams and rivers. Students and community volunteers will install the rain gardens around the city of Joplin as it recovers from the storm. Ultimately, they hope to see 40 rain gardens built - proof that even after a terrible tragedy, communities can come together to create beauty and make change.
Since 2008, the TogetherGreen Innovation Grants program has awarded over $4.7 million to more than 160 environmental projects nationwide. The 2011 awardees are receiving grants ranging from $5,000 - $50,000. Funds were awarded to partnerships, mostly between Audubon groups (local Chapters or programs of Audubon's large national network) and organizations in their communities. This year's grant projects involve more than 150 partner organizations nationwide. Many of the projects focus on engaging audiences that have traditionally been under-served by the conservation movement, from urban youth to rural ranchers.
The Wildcat Park Conservation & Audubon Center is located in Wildcat Park, 201 W. Riviera, off of Hearnes Blvd., Joplin (I-44, exit 6). Phone (417) 782-6287 to speak to the development and volunteer coordinator.