OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City Zoo is inviting metro schools to apply for its OKC Living Classroom Grant program.

According to the OKC Zoo, the program provides Oklahoma City’s youth with opportunities to contribute to wildlife and habitat conservation. The Zoo is teaming up with the Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative and National Wildlife Federation to offer OKC metro area schools the chance to participate.

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 “We are always excited to expand our grant program and provide more opportunities to connect Oklahoma’s youth to wildlife,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, OKC Zoo’s senior director of conservation, education and science. “Our participating schools take pride in growing and caring for their pollinator gardens. The students see the direct impact their actions have on monarchs while discovering a new appreciation and passion for wildlife conservation throughout the process.”

Zoo officials say metro schools, kindergarten through 12th grade, are welcome to apply for the OKC Living Classroom Grant program to create monarch gardens at their locations.

According to the Zoo, Monarch butterflies are famous in Oklahoma and play a huge role in keeping the environment going. But, officials say the butterflies’ population has declined 90% within the last decade due to habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change.

During the spring and fall, migrating monarchs make their way through Oklahoma as they travel to central Mexico and southern Canada, according to the Zoo. Those butterflies are losing vital habitat throughout this overwintering and breeding range.

This is why the OKC Zoo is hoping to help by planting pollinator gardens through Oklahoma City with native flowers, grasses and butterfly host plants to save and protect monarchs and other pollinators.

The Zoo says applications are being accepted March 10, 2023, through April 30, 2023. Every public, private and charter K-12 school in the following areas are eligible to apply:

  • OKC
  • Edmond
  • Yukon
  • Mustang
  • Moore
  • Midwest City
  • Del City
  • Norman
  • Bethany
  • Piedmont
  • Deer Creek
  • Choctaw
  • Warr Acres

A maximum of six grants awarded and those recipient schools will get up to $1,500 for garden supplies. Teachers will also be provided with the proper training needed to design and install their new gardens and use them as outdoor classrooms.

The grants will be awarded by Thursday, June 1, 2023.

For more information or to apply, visit okczoo.com.