2012-02-09 / Outdoors

Walmart Foundation grants will help Conservancy expand its school programs

SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY


Front row: Lake Park Elementary School fifth grade students Christian Wright and Connor McIntire. Back row: Javier Brenes, Walmart market manager; David Webb, education manager at the Conservancy; Larry Graham, co-manager of Walmart store #5391; and Rob Moher, vice president of development and marketing at the Conservancy. Front row: Lake Park Elementary School fifth grade students Christian Wright and Connor McIntire. Back row: Javier Brenes, Walmart market manager; David Webb, education manager at the Conservancy; Larry Graham, co-manager of Walmart store #5391; and Rob Moher, vice president of development and marketing at the Conservancy. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has received a $50,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to support “Learning Adventures” in area schools. Over the past two years, Walmart has supported education initiatives at the Conservancy with grants totaling more than $80,000.

Through the “Learning Adventures” program, Conservancy of Southwest Florida environmental education naturalists visit Collier and Lee county schools to teach the next generation of environmental leaders about Southwest Florida’s natural treasures.

The most recent grant check was presented to Conservancy staff and leadership on Feb. 1. Javier Brenes, Walmart market manager for Southwest Florida, attended the presentation.

“We know it is important to give back to the communities we serve, and after listening to the educators and kids here today, we now have a greater understanding and appreciation of the reallife impact of the gift,” Mr. Brenes told the gathering.

Curt Witthoff, science coordinator for Collier County schools, and Lee Hughes, science coordinator for Lee County schools, both expressed their appreciation to Walmart for supporting the Conservancy youth education programs.

Christian Wright, a fifth-grader at Lake Park Elementary School in Collier County, told the group about how the Conservancy programs, many of which include live animals taken on classroom visits, have helped him and his classmates understand the beauty and importance of the region’s ecosystems.

Suzette Nolan and Nicole Hughes, principals at Avalon and Shadowlawn elementary schools respectively, expressed their thanks to the Conservancy and Walmart for helping them reach their educational goals for their students, many of whom live in economically challenged situations.

“The grant enables the Conservancy to expand our programming to reach more than 4,500 students, exposing them to our mission and igniting their interest in environmental education,” Andrew McElwaine, Conservancy president and CEO, told the gathering. “We are grateful to the Walmart Foundation.”

About the Conservancy

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida focuses on the critical environmental issues of Southwest Florida with a mission to protect the region’s water, land and wildlife through environmental education, science and research, policy and advocacy and wildlife rehabilitation. For information, call 262-0304 or visit www.conservancy.org. ¦

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