RULE 168.00.17-001 - Fish and Wildlife Conservation Education Grant Program Rules

RULE 168.00.17-001. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Education Grant Program Rules

Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Division of Rural Services and the Arkansas Rural Development Commission

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), Division of Rural Services (DRS), is charged with assisting rural communities with a population of 20,000 and under. Established under Act 302 of 1991, and merged with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission under Act 8 of the 2015 First Extraordinary Session, DRS assists local agencies in rural areas with information and technical assistance. Currently, more than 80% of Arkansans live in rural areas.

The Board of Directors of the Arkansas Rural Development Commission (hereafter Arkansas Rural Development Commission or ARDC) is a group of citizens from rural Arkansas. Seven of its members are appointed by the Governor, two are appointed by the Senate President Pro-Tem, and two are appointed by the Speaker of the House. Commissioners serve multiple-year terms and meet throughout the year to discuss rural issues that affect Arkansans.

The mission of these two groups is to "Enhance the quality of life in rural Arkansas."

One focus of the Division of Rural Services is to be a source of information for rural citizens and provide support services to rural communities. DRS publishes a quarterly newsletter that covers rural policies and topics. The Division also hosts an annual conference and local forums around the state throughout the course of the year.

In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 371 which amended the laws for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Education Grant program (hereafter known as the Game and Fish Wildlife Conservation Education Grant Program). This legislation transferred the administration of the program under the control of the Division of Rural Services. The Game and Fish Conservation Education Grant Program is a partnership between DRS and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) that converts portions of county fine money into grant funds for school conservation education programs.

General Information and Eligibility

Through the Game and Fish Wildlife Conservation Education Grant Program, the Arkansas Rural Development Commission and the Division of Rural Services, and in consultation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, strive to enhance the level conservation education in the state by providing incentive grants. The Game and Fish Conservation Education Grant will assist school and conservation districts in the creation and maintenance of conservation education programs.

With this grant program, all school district and conservation districts are eligible to apply for assistance regardless of district size or population. The funding availability will vary by district as the funds collected are county specific. This means that only fine money collected in a certain county can be used as grants funds for that county.

Funding Availability

As funding availably is county specific, grant allocations are separate for each county. The Division of Rural Services strives to fund as many projects as possible.

What Type of Projects are Eligible

Programs eligible for funding consideration under the Game & Fish Wildlife Conservation Education Grant Program include, but are not limited to:

* Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program (ANASP)

* Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program (AYSSP)

* Uniforms for teams listed above

* Arkansas Stream Team

* Hotel, Travel and Registration for all programs listed above

* Hooked on Fishing - Not on Drugs (HOFNOD)

* Study of general fish and wildlife conservation issues

* Proj ect WILD Workshops

* Proj ect WET Workshops

* Implementation/Operation of a Butterfly Garden

* Implementation/Operation of an Outdoor Classroom

* School Yard Habitat Site Development

* Specialized AGFC conservation education/educator training workshops focused on above programs

* Funds also may be used by educators to take students on field trips to AGFC Nature Centers, Conservation Education Centers and Wildlife Management Areas. Including bus fuel.

What Type of Projects are Ineligible

Projects not eligible for funding consideration under the Game and Fish Wildlife Conservation Education Grant Program include, but again are not limited to:

* Any competitive shooting or archery teams not associated with the AGFC

* Cost associated with hunters/boaters education courses

* No food purchases (meals) other than bottled water or light snacks

* No t-shirt, caps or other clothing purchases allowed with the exception of uniforms for ANASP or AYSSP as listed above

* Salaries or any other compensation- including bus drivers or substitute teachers

* Day to day maintenance

* Building of permanent structures

Note: If you are not positive that your project is eligible, please call and speak to a Grants Manager at 1-888-RURAL-AR or AGFC Education Division at 1-501-223-6331.

Application Process

The program operates on an annual basis. Fiscal Year 2018 applications will be accepted beginning July 1, 2017 and ending February 8, 2018. Applicants must gain the approval of their local school principal or conservation district official who will be ultimately responsible for the grant should it be received.

The local school principal or conservation district official must affix his or her signature to the following documents for the application to be considered complete:

* Certification letter

* Application

Applicants must submit an original application with original signatures.

Application Review and Awards Presentation

Applications are numbered and reviewed for completeness and eligibility in the order received by the Division of Rural Services. Individual proposal consultations can be arranged with staff by appointment. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications well before the deadline to allow DRS staff time to thoroughly review the application and assist applicants in correcting any deficiencies prior to the deadline.

Applications received postmarked after the deadline date will not be eligible for consideration.

After staff review for completeness and eligibility, applications undergo a review process by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Education Department. DRS and AGFC submit funding recommendations, in the following order, to the Arkansas Rural Development Commission and the Governor's Office. Following final review and approval, the grants are awarded by mail.

Reporting Requirements and Responsibilities

In compliance with Act 1009 of 1991, project funds will be expended through a fund established on the books of the district. All project expenditures, with invoices attached, shall be approved by the school principal or conservation district conservationist and remain on file in the office of the district for three years or until audited, whichever is later.

All project expenditures must be expended within one year after the date of the award. A final report, including cancelled checks and receipts of all funds expended, along with the state's portion of any unspent funds, must be submitted by the school principal or conservation district conservationist to DRS and subsequently to the Chief Fiscal Officer of the state. This must be done no more than 60 days following the project's completion or within the one year period of the grant award, whichever comes first.

Checklist for a Complete Game & Fish Conservation Education Grant

In addition to the grant application, communities must include the following, in order, for the application to be complete. Failure to submit any of the required documents by the cycle deadline will result in an incomplete application and will not be reviewed by the Arkansas Rural Development Commission for grant consideration. Please use this sheet to double check that all required information is submitted such as:

[]A signed Certification Letter enclosed with application from the principal or conservationist complete with signature and correct date and calendar year.

[] Backup documentation for all items listed in the project cost estimate.

[] The original grant is mailed PLUS one copy of the entire application packet.

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(6/5/2017)

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