Dick Herfindahl: DNR helps bring youth back to the outdoors

Published 7:27 pm Friday, November 29, 2019

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


Over the years I have stressed the importance of getting our youth outdoors and involved in sports such as hunting and fishing. A lot of high schools have gotten behind sports such as fishing clubs and trap shooting, both of which are becoming more and more popular.

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I myself have noticed that over the years there are less and less of our youth involved in outdoors activities. As a youth my relationship with all things outdoors was very strong. In the summer I would wake up, get dressed and, after breakfast, I would be out the door in search of one or more of my friends. Once we got together we were always trying to create our next outdoors adventure. Most of the time it would involve spending a fair amount of time at the “bridge” where we would always be looking for fish or other wild critters that frequented the area.

I had always marveled at the many different things that nature had to offer this aspiring young outdoorsman as I continued my quest to understand it. I had always enjoyed watching the process as a tadpole went from a little black fish-looking creature with legs to a frog. Once I had spotted those little tadpoles at the bridge I would return almost daily just to check on the progress of their transformation.

The DNR is making a concerted effort to turn around the downward trend of our youth to not participate in many of the outdoors activities that were held dear by those who proceeded them. They are offering grants to interested outdoors organizations to try and show our youth some of the marvelous things that nature has to offer.

Public entities and nonprofit organizations can apply to receive funding from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in the second phase of a grant program that supports getting more children outdoors.

Grant funding is available to assist with work including teaching kids about nature outside or getting them to recreate outside, integrating fishing and hunting programs into school curriculums, and supporting high school fishing leagues.

“We’re expecting a strong, competitive response for phase two,” said Jeff Ledermann, education and skills team supervisor. “We’ll give preference to projects that propose new and innovative ways to serve youth who have limited outdoor opportunities.”

Public entities and nonprofit organizations serving youth under age 18 can apply now through 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9. The minimum grant for this second phase is $5,000 and the maximum is $49,999. In this phase, the total amount available for all projects is $500,000. All reimbursable grant project work must be completed by June 30, 2022.

No match is required for this phase of the program, but organizations are encouraged to include matches of cash, in-kind volunteer labor, donated materials or services. The percentage of match included in project proposals will be a priority criterion in considering applications. Examples of match could include teacher time, parent volunteer hours, program costs not covered by the grant, or time spent on reports and other administrative tasks associated with the grant project.

The DNR will select projects through a review process and distribute awards on a geographically balanced, statewide basis.


Application criteria

The grant program supports projects that provide ongoing support for nature education and outdoor recreation programs.

Funding can be used for outdoor recreation equipment, transportation and related natural resource education expenses. Evaluation criteria include whether the proposed projects would:

• Provide students direct experiences and understanding of nature;

• Use effective, research-based educational curriculum that is based on environmental topics, ecology, agriculture or natural resources;

• Maximize the number of participants;

• Use public parks or other natural resource venues and personnel as resources;a

• Have a high proportion of matching funds or in-kind support.

The DNR received more than 400 applications for the first phase of the grant program.

“We had an overwhelming response to phase one and it was really gratifying to read all the applications and see all the great programs that were proposed to get kids outdoors,” Ledermann said. “The strong response demonstrated the interest in developing these programs.”

For more information on the grant program and a link to the application, visit the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/

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