Nature Reach, based in the PSU Biology Department since 1985, got a recent boost with a grant award of $10,000 from Westar Energy Foundation.

Nature Reach, the focus of which is a live animal collection, is committed to providing natural history and environmental education outreach programming to school and community groups.

The annual budget for Nature Reach comes from program fees, grants, and private donations from the community.

Over the past five years, PSU Nature Reach has provided programming in 30 communities, primarily in Southeast Kansas, but also in Southwest Missouri and Northeast Oklahoma. It also provides day camp programming to elementary-aged children at the PSU Nature Reserve, conducts teacher workshops, and provides real-world training to university students pursuing careers in veterinary medicine, field biology, conservation, and wildlife management.

Mary Jo Meier, director of Development for the College of Arts & Sciences, said the contribution aligns well with the mission of the Westar Foundation, as it invests in initiatives to improve students’ educational development, from kindergarten to career or vocation.

This marks the third time Nature Reach has received support from Westar; in 2007 and 2011, Westar’s Green Team provided wood, netting, and assistance in building two raptor enclosures at the PSU Nature Reserve.