Evergy awards grant to Nature Reach for kindergarten pilot program

  Friday, December 13, 2019 11:00 AM
  News, Science and Technology

Pittsburg, KS

Nature Reach Evergy

A $10,000 grant award by Evergy to PSU Nature Reach will fund a pilot program designed to bridge the gap between two existing programs offered to area youth. 

Evergy made the award official in a brief ceremonial check presentation to Nature Reach on Friday at PSU. 

The pilot program, Kindergarten Day Camp, will be held at the PSU Nature Reserve operated by Nature Reach, and will begin in Summer 2020. It will have the capacity to serve 30 children each session. 

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. 

The funding also will help support daily Nature Reach operations and programming and in 30 communities, primarily in Southeast Kansas, but also in Southwest Missouri and Northeast Oklahoma. 

Nature Reach, based in the PSU Biology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences since 1985, was established to provide natural history and environmental education outreach programming to school and community groups.

It also provides PSU Biology students a hands-on learning opportunity; many of them have hopes of one day becoming veterinarians, park rangers, nature center interpreters, and other related careers for which Nature Reach prepares them, Lister said.

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.

"At Evergy we recognize that envirnomental learning and sustainability encouragement should really start at a young age," West said. "So our check presentation today is just an exciting piece of that."

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.

Learn more about Nature Reach at https://pittstate.edu/biology/nature-reach/.