Friends of the Desert Mountains was recently awarded the Environmental Connections por Vida grant during the Anderson Children's Foundation's annual grant awards distribution. The $10,000 grant will go towards funding Friends of the Desert Mountains' youth education program.
The Anderson Children's Foundation provides funding to charities, nonprofits, churches and schools in the local area. The foundation has awarded more than $18 million in funding to programs that support local youth since 1993. Friends of the Desert Mountains was one of the organizations that received a portion of the grant funding, totaling $1 million, for 2022-2023 awardees.
The Friends of the Desert Mountains Youth Education Program has been providing outdoor education to elementary school-aged children for the past two years. The outdoor education program's objective is to get, "...kids active and outdoors and engaging in scientific inquiry," by implementing S.T.E.A.M, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, curriculum while teaching students about the Indigenous history of the local area.
The newly hired Director of Education, Oscar Ortiz, who also serves as the Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Indio, says that this grant will go towards buying art supplies and bound notebooks for children who enter the program. Ortiz says that getting children involved with outdoor education is more than just a fun summer pastime.
“That seems to really promote conservation, and start getting them thinking about how to take care of the wildlife out here," Ortiz says.
Ortiz says that implementing these resources will encourage his students to deepen their observations while in the field and their connection to nature.
“Almost every day that we have a program here, we'll see that light turned on for some of those kids, right, that they start asking about the animals, asking about the mountains, asking about the area. So just hearing all those questions come up, we know that they're getting interested," says Ortiz.