Wednesday, November 24, 2010

School Bus Scholarships Take Flight at Bosque del Apache

Mountain Mail reports

About 20 students from Kathy White’s first grade class at Alamo Elementary School were given a personal tour of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge on Friday (Nov. 12) as part of a School Bus Scholarship program with the Friends of the Bosque del Apache.
The School Bus scholarships can be used to pay part or all of a school’s cost for transporting students to the Bosque del Apache for a scheduled education tour. Visitors to the Festival of the Cranes will have an opportunity to support this popular program by participating in a silent auction and a spotting scope drawing.
The scholarships are offered in conjunction with the Refuge’s regular free curriculum-based tours, making school visits an exceptionally affordable and rewarding experience.
The bus tours, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide provided by the Refuge, are available to school classes throughout the school year. Both public and private schools, as well as home-school groups based anywhere in New Mexico, are eligible for the bus scholarships.
Reimbursement is based on 50 cents per mile traveled to and from the Refuge in addition to driver costs at $8 per hour. Schools in Socorro County are reimbursed at 100 percent and those outside Socorro County at 75 percent, capped at $250.
Friends of the Bosque originated the bus scholarships in 1996, and since then more than $25,000 has been awarded to bring students to the Refuge. For the 2006-07 school year, 31 schools received funding through the program.
From the program’s inception, donations from visitors and proceeds from an annual fund-raiser have provided the bulk of funds for the scholarships. In 2008, the Emerson Learn Memorial Bus Scholarship Endowment was created as a receptacle for memorials and other designated gifts. As the amount in this endowment increases, the hope is that it will earn enough to cover annual distributions for scholarship applications.
At this year’s Festival of the Cranes, proceeds from a silent auction at the Thursday evening Annual Friends Dinner will be placed in the endowment fund. Funds that will been raised from a drawing for a Zeiss Diascope 20-60 power spotting scope and tripod will be used to offset this year’s bus scholarship awards.
Drawing tickets are available at the Refuge’s visitor center and at Festival events.

Photo by John Larson

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