Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Marc Miller announced that more than $63,000 in Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grants will allow nearly 6,000 students to visit Illinois state parks, museums, and other natural resources sites to learn about nature and conservation. The Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grants are made possible by private donations to the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF). The Independence Tube Corporation of Chicago and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation of Skokie provided the majority of the funds for 2011. The 65 grant recipients are located throughout Illinois and represent students from pre-kindergarten through high school. Since its inception in 2001, the program has distributed more than $445,000 and reached more than 47,000 students. The competitive grant program lets Illinois teachers apply for funds to take students out of the classroom to study Illinois’ biodiversity. Learning activities must meet the Illinois Learning Standards from the Illinois State Board of Education. Funding is administered by the ICF and covers expenses such as transportation and substitute teachers.

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Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura