The inaugural Friend of Education award was handed out recently in Pottawattamie County.
The Pottawattamie Conservation Foundation and Pottawattamie County Conservation Environmental Education Program presented their inaugural Friend of Education Award to Gary Matters at the annual Foundation Banquet on September 20, 2012.
The award was established to thank and honor individuals and organizations that promote and help sustain environmental education programs in Pottawattamie County.
Matters was selected as the first recipient for his commitment to environmental education in Pottawattamie County.
When the state of Iowa passed a new law forbidding schools from charging students for field trips in 2008, it threatened the future of nature field trips for Pottawattamie County students.
Matters knew sustained funding could continue to provide kids with meaningful experiences and learning opportunities in nature.
Matters worked with the PCF and environmental education staff to establish a scholarship fund to pay for nature field trips.
“Gary recognized the value of field trips in nature and set off at once to raise funds and awareness,” says Tina Popson, Education Program Manager for PCC. “He garnered community support as well as the appreciation of our staff. We wanted to recognize his contributions to our program and to the kids of Pottawattamie County.”
“Gary was instrumental in securing funding to create and sustain this program,” says Kelly Dix, environmental educator for PCC. “He is humble about his contributions and the impact he has made in the lives of Pottawattamie County youth.”
Thanks to the Get on Board scholarship fund, the PCC Environmental Education program provides one free field trip to one grade in every public school in the county, ensuring that over 1,600 students each year have the opportunity to explore, discover, and connect with the wonders of the natural world.