AUSTIN, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Wednesday that more than $2.8 million in grants will be given by the department’s Community Outdoor Outreach Program to 55 projects throughout the state, some of which are in Amarillo.

According to a news release from the department, the organizations that received grant funding help connect under-represented audiences to Texas State Parks, promoting the value of recreation and conservation throughout the state. Recipients across the state include conservation groups, nature centers, summer camps, churches, school districts, and municipalities.

Three groups in the Amarillo area received more than $120,000 in grant funds from the department. According to the release, the entities included:

  • City of Amarillo: $50,707
    • The “Centered in Nature Series” is a year-round, free program that introduces outdoor skills to economically disadvantaged families through neighborhood classes like bush crafting, outdoor cooking, orienteering and guided overnight campouts. Some of the money will also go towards six half-day “Hooked on Fishing Camps,” helping participants learn the basic principles of fishing at neighborhood sites.
  • Maverick Boys & Girls Club of Amarillo: $50,001
    • The “Outdoor Education” program provides low-income K-12 students with summer day trips to places like Ceta Canyon, Lake Meredith and Palo Duro Canyon State Park so they can explore geology, hiking, kayaking and fishing. Students will also research native plants, trees and rocks while designing a “Calming Garden,” which would provide a habitat for local species.
  • Window On A Wider World: $19,800
    • The “High Plains Experience Beyond the Classroom” program gives 60 schools across the Texas Panhandle the opportunity to interact with the organization which provides classroom outreach and field explorations at places including Caprock Canyon and Palo Duro Canyon state parks and the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. More than 5,000 students are expected to also take part in themed lessons on topics like water conservation, wildlife, hunting, fisheries, water safety and the cultural history of the Texas Plains.

Other entities received grant funds from the department, according to the release, including Empower Camps of Texas in Lubbock, the Ector County Independent School District in Odessa, the Boys and Girls Club of Vernon in Vernon and the River Bend Nature Center in Wichita Falls.

According to the release, the grant program was first established by the department in 1996 and is funded through a portion of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax collected throughout the state. Since the program began, the department has awarded $27 million in grants throughout Texas.

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