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Grant Dollars Build Community Pride
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's environment is the big winner as youth organizations across the state such as 4-H garner grant money from the Chevron Companies.
Community Pride is a grants and awards program sponsored by the Chevron Companies and administered by the Mississippi State University Extension Service's 4-H department. Schools and youth organizations apply for up to $400 each for environmental projects. During recent homecoming festivities at MSU, Chevron donated $115,000 to the university, with $50,000 earmarked for Community Pride, $55,000 to the College of Engineering and $10,000 for a wetland workshop in South Mississippi for teachers.
"Mississippi State and Chevron have a tremendous partnership going back to the 1960s when the Pascagoula plant was built," said Dr. Mack Portera, MSU President.
Heather Gilmore, a graduate assistant in the state 4-H office, oversees the application and reporting process for Community Pride funds. Projects range from recycling programs to butterfly gardens and have included tree planting, landscaping, nature trail construction and Earth Day programs.
"Youth groups submit applications on March 1 and Nov. 1 for projects they want to conduct within a year's time," Gilmore said. "Projects are judged on the potential to continue the projects after a year, exposure of environmental issues and overall impact the projects can have on youth and the community."
Gilmore said groups are encouraged to seek additional funding sources in the community.
"These projects encourage groups to work with each other for the good of the community. As they succeed year after year, additional funding sources tend to emerge. That's important in helping the projects continue," Gilmore said.
Debbie Kemp, a 4-H volunteer in Alcorn County, has helped a local club receive three Community Pride grants. Two completed projects were designing and constructing a butterfly garden and nature trail and providing flowering plants in downtown planters. A third project to landscape around a "Welcome to Mississippi" sign will be completed in the spring.
"The projects have given us opportunities to learn what attracts butterflies and the names of plants and trees. The community really enjoyed the downtown flowers," Kemp said. "The projects give kids and the community a good feeling to see what they accomplish and it helps their self esteem."
Kemp said the grants from Chevron serve as seed money to motivate the community into improving their environment.
"Some groups have done landscape work at nursing homes which not only beautifies the grounds, but it also gives young people an opportunity to interact with nursing home residents. Everyone enjoys that," Kemp said.
Steve Renfroe, public affairs manager with Chevron, said broad-based involvement is important in the success of community projects.
"Community Pride projects are successful when there is a vision that others share in promoting a better environment and community," Renfroe said. "The educational aspect of the projects teaches young and old alike and provides something the youth can carry with them throughout their lives."
Contact: Heather Gilmore, (662) 325-3351