Camp Fire First Texas was awarded a $70,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP) to encourage underserved middle and high school students to pursue a deeper understanding of natural resource conservation through their Texas Outdoor Education Center (TXOEC) programs.
In honor of the State Park Centennial Celebration, TPWD has awarded the largest sum of grant funding, more than $2.8 million, in the program’s history and supports a record-breaking number of organizations connecting under-represented audiences to Texas State Parks.
The Camp Fire Texas Outdoor Education Center project funded by TPWD encourages under-served middle and high school students to pursue a deeper understanding of natural resource conservation. Day and overnight programming engages youth in Texas Aquatic Science and Project WILD activities, develops skills in archery, backpacking and outdoor recreation, and builds relationships between students and Master Naturalists, state park staff and a Texas Game Warden to explore conservation careers.
Brian Miller, Camp Fire Vice President Outdoor Programs said, “We are looking forward to being able to serve more students from Title I schools because the schools with few resources don’t have to pay… this grant covers transportation, meals, lodging and cost of the program allowing more under-represented students to begin a lifelong relationship with nature.”
TXOEC unit lessons provide environmental education, conservation awareness and outdoor recreation programs. Everything from archery to campfires are used as real-life examples to build dialogue and understanding around STEM content while providing opportunities to connect with nature.
“Since 2020, Camp Fire has been a dedicated partner with Urban Strategies, Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves low-income families throughout Tarrant County, to provide former Cavile Place families with several amazing opportunities to explore outdoor activities and wildlife education at Camp El Tesoro,” said Simeon Henderson, Senior Project Manager with Urban Strategies, Inc. This continued Fort Worth community partnership is made possible by the TPWD grant funding.
This grant also provides an opportunity for Camp Fire Teens in Action students to attend a TPWD Texas Outdoor Family Camping Workshop at Cleburne State Park and complete a service project at the park in partnership with the superintendent.
CO-OP was established by TPWD in 1996 to introduce under-represented audiences to environmental education, conservation and outdoor recreation programs. The program is housed under the Recreation Grants Branch in TPWD’s State Parks Division and is funded through a portion of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax collected in Texas. All grant projects are competitively funded through an annual Request for Proposals process and reviewed by an internal committee according to scoring criteria approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Grant funds may be used for supplies, travel, training, food, personnel costs and equipment for ongoing use.
Over the past 27 years, TPWD has awarded $27 million around the state to assist in this effort.