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Release: Immediate

UI Recreational Services extends Wild 2000 environmental program with $18,900 grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- More local school children are studying nature first hand at the University of Iowa's Macbride Nature Recreation Area, thanks to a $18,900 grant from the Iowa Department of Education's Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) conservation education program.

With the REAP grant, the UI Division of Recreational Services is extending its Wild 2000 program of weeklong environmental education camps to all 17 elementary schools in the Iowa City Community School District.

Wild 2000 started as a pilot program last spring when five schools were sponsored by a federal Environmental Protection Agency environmental education grant. Recreational Services received the state REAP grant in summer 1998, and seven more schools participated in Wild 2000 in fall 1998, with the five remaining schools joining the program this spring. Approximately 600 students attended the Wild 2000 camps in 1998; about 300 more expected to attend this spring.

"It's our desire to have every student in the community be given a chance to participate in a wildlife camp experience, not just those who can afford it during school vacations," said Dave Conrads, coordinator of Wild 2000 and the UI Wildlife Camps.

The day camps introduce students to the diverse animal and plant life in the area with hands-on nature study in forests, wetlands and prairies. Campers also learn about bird identification and banding, archaeology and wilderness survival, and have the option of camping overnight on Thursdays. Wild 2000 is held in the spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) during the school year.

The Wild 2000 camps are modeled after the UI Wildlife Camps offered during spring, summer, and winter breaks. Started in the summer of 1991, the UI Wildlife Camps introduce area youth to the beauty and diversity of the natural world through hands-on activities.

"We emphasize 'hands-on' because each of the staff realizes that first-hand experiences kindled our excitement and care for wildlife and the various natural ecosystems," Conrads said. "Our ultimate goal as environmental educators is to guide each camper closer to a sound environmental ethic, so they can make informed and conscientious decisions regarding our natural resources. We take our mission seriously and have a lot of fun doing it!"

The Macbride Nature Recreation Area is a 480-acre tract of land bordered by Lake Macbride and the Coralville Reservoir. Leased from the Army Corps of Engineers by the UI, it is under the direction of the Division of Recreational Services.

Registration for the summer 1999 UI Wildlife Camps begins in March. For more information, contact Conrads at (319) 335-9293.