UWSP’s Central Wisconsin Environmental Station
(CWES) will be able to provide more funds and programs for children as a result
of the Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Foundation’s grant awarded this past June
CWES offers programs related to fishing, astronomy,
survival skills, identification of different plants and animals and basic
campfire songs for students at the Portage Country Boys and Girls Club and to
the Amherst, Rosholt, and Iola school districts between September and April.
The three-year grant will provide CWES with
$225,000 to fund after-school activities, summer camp programs and additional
opportunities to hire and train camp staff and educators.
“The MAC Foundation approaches your operation,” said
CWES Director Scott Johnson, “You can’t solicit them for money in any way. They
approach you based on their own research and ask you to apply based on the
goals of the Foundation.”
Johnson explained that the process for applying for
the grant is quite extensive. Once an application is received from an
organization like CWES, it goes through a series of rounds the MAC Foundation
has set criteria for. If the organization meets this criterion, it moves on to
the next round. Fourteen months after its application was submitted, CWES was
notified of its acceptance.
The MAC Foundation is a dedicated supporter of
programs and institutions devoted to environmental education. As a camp and
place where the environment has become a significant learning tool, CWES embodies
the core values of the MAC Foundation offering multiple opportunities for
people to interact and connect with nature outside of the classroom.
“We go to each school district and boys and girls
club and offer a free camp themed event with a variation of the programs we
have at CWES,” said After School Program Coordinator Linda Gruber. “With the
advice of the guidance counselors and administrators, we then choose 25 kids
from each site to participate in our after school programs at the camp.”
The grant itself will be used to increase attendance in both the
after school program and the summer camp. Typically, the summer camp has a
total of 300 students attending, but with the additional funding CWES will be
able to hire additional staff and increase the attendance of summer camp to 425
“For the first year of the grant we plan on using a portion of the
money to add to our existing programs,” Johnson said. “Because the MAC
Foundation is so specific to what the money can be used for, we are looking for
additional grant opportunities to help fund and expand our education and
sustainability programs at CWES.”
CWES has already begun expanding its existing programs and is
currently making an effort to increase its sustainability. The camp has leased
a large plot of land and planted a garden that provides a variety of vegetables
for the camp’s kitchen. Gruber said that the CWES garden has provided
approximately 1000 pounds of crops from the past season. Chicken coops have
also been erected and are on track to produce 75 percent of the camp’s eggs.
“We’ve really made an effort to support ourselves through the
garden and chickens, as well as support the local farmers around CWES as much
as possible,” Gruber said.
On top of the MAC Foundation’s grant, CWES is also looking at
expanding its outreach and education of UWSP natural resource majors.
University students have the opportunity to fulfill many of their practicum
hours at the camp by teaching school children basic environmental skills and
applying education techniques out in the field.
“Working at CWES has always been an excellent opportunity for UWSP
students to apply their skills in the field, especially those seeking a career
in environmental education, and we’re really making an effort to making this
one of the top environmental programs in the country,” Johnson said.
has an ambitious vision to carry out its role as an environmental education
facility by offering students of all ages the opportunity to get outside and
develop a long-term connection with the environment.