A $10,000 grant award by Evergy to Nature Reach will fund a pilot program designed to bridge the gap between two existing programs offered to local youth. Evergy will make the award official in a brief ceremonial check presentation to Nature Reach at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, in Room 338 Heckert-Wells at PSU.
Currently, Nature Reach Director Delia Lister offers a Pre-K Summer Reading Program in the Nature Reach room on campus, incorporating live animals housed there with children’s literature. And, she offers summer day camps at the Nature Reserve for first through third graders. Both programs have been extremely popular since their inception and routinely fill up.
Nature Reach, based in the PSU Biology Department since 1985, was established to provide natural history and environmental education outreach programming to school and community groups while at the same time providing PSU Biology students a hands-on learning opportunity. The program’s annual budget is funded by program fees, grants, and private donations from the community.
“Thanks to support from Evergy last year, we were able to spend time surveying the needs of area schools and families,” Lister said. “The big take away was that people wanted their kids to spend more time at Nature Reach. We hope this camp will begin to meet that need. Thanks to this funding we will not only be able to have a new program, but we will be able to continue to meet the needs of our animal ambassadors who make Nature Reach what it is!”
Mary Jo Meier, director of Development for the College of Arts & Sciences, said Evergy’s contribution aligns well with the mission of the foundation, which is to invest in initiatives to improve students’ educational development, from kindergarten to career or vocation.
“We value our continued partnership with Evergy that will help us increase environmental awareness through hands-on educational outreach,” Meier said.
Every spokesperson Kari West said the company is glad to give a grant award that will have such a positive impact.
“Nature Reach excites and engages children as they learn about nature and we are glad to be a supporter,” West said.
This marks the fourth time Nature Reach has received support from Evergy (formerly Westar Energy); in 2007 and 2011, Westar’s Green Team provided wood, netting, and assistance in building two raptor enclosures at the Nature Reserve. Last year, Evergy Foundation awarded Nature Reach a $10,000 grant to help expand programming in schools.