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Grant boosts Muddy Sneakers program in schools

Children enjoy Muddy Sneakers program. Children enjoy Muddy Sneakers program.

A grant awarded to Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy will help support the Muddy Sneakers outdoor education program in Henderson County elementary schools.

The grant provides $4,000 to fund Muddy Sneakers expeditions at Edneyville Elementary School and the Mountain Community School in Hendersonville.

Muddy Sneakers provides field-based experiential education to fifth grade students at public schools across Western North Carolina. Its mission is to awaken in children a deeply felt connection with the natural world, one that inspires curiosity, stimulates learning and brings new life to classroom performance.

Founded by CMLC-conservation landowner Sandy Schenck, Muddy Sneakers is in its fifth year of serving 16 schools across five WNC school districts. Muddy Sneakers has developed curriculum for expeditions at the CMLC-conserved Green River Preserve and CMLC-owned Florence Nature Preserve properties.

"Muddy Sneakers cannot begin to express our gratitude to CMLC for securing this significant funding," said the organization's new executive director, Ryan Olson. "This funding is precedent in our continued partnership and shows an incredible commitment by CMLC to support education that directly ties into creating the next generation of conservationists."

The grant was awarded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation through the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. In the last eight years, the Conservation Trust has directed more than $10 million in private and public funding to local land trusts in North Carolina.