Pottsboro Library receives Google.org grant

Pottsboro Library

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced the Pottsboro Library would be one of 18 grant recipient organizations who will launch the National Digital Navigator Corps.  The grants are part of $10 million of support from Google.org, which will go toward hiring community-based digital navigators to further develop NDIA’s digital navigator model for rural and Tribal communities.

Digital navigators at the 18 selected sub-grantee organizations will help thousands of residents gain much-needed access to the internet, devices, and digital skills training.  Pottsboro who was the only public library among the grantees, received more than $350,000 to hire a digital expert.

“We have a full-time digital navigator to help people connect to tech, whatever they need to be successful,” said Dianne Connery, the Pottsboro Library director.  As the digital navigator, Mark Revolinski said he does everything from helping people set up the internet to teach the basics.

Dianne Connery, the library’s director, has been focused on bringing technology to Pottsboro since 2010.  During COVID, students who had been sent home to study virtually needed connectivity to the internet in this small rural community.  The library set up mobile hotspots around town so students would have access to learning online.

Another need emerged when people began calling the library desperate to get online for telehealth appointments with their doctors who didn’t want high-risk patients coming into the hospital or office.  The library opened a dedicated telehealth room that people can reserve to video chat with doctors.  The library partnered with the University of North Texas Health Science Center, which handles the appointment booking to keep personal information private.   You can connect with your own healthcare provider or make an appointment with their healthcare partner.

The library recently offered classes on staying safe online so you can identify phishing emails and text messages, identify popular scams, learn how to pay online safely, and receive 1-on1 tech help from the navigator.

In August of 2022, the library held an “Introduction to Digital Culture” class.  This 5-week course, taught by the library’s Senior Planet-trained digital navigators (seniorplanet.org), discusses how to identify and contact political representatives and get involved in government, maintain your financial security online, access reliable health and wellness information, safely enjoy social media, and have fun with creative opportunities on the Internet.

The Pottsboro Library was selected by AARP to offer a Digital Skills Ready@50 program.  The AARP Foundation, in collaboration with OATS (Older Adults Technology Services), offers the free technology class for those over 50 who are considering going back to work, exploring entrepreneurship, or switching careers.

The Pottsboro library offers free use of computers and internet access, as well as wireless access outside the building after hours.  They also have Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office software available.  You can also check out a Nikon DSLR 3100 and GoPro cameras and accessories.

On game night, teens flock to the library to access one of a dozen computers lining the library’s back corner.  These gaming computers support Pottsboro’s high school e-sports team, which competes through the North American Scholastic Esports Federation.

The Pottsboro Library is much more than books.  It is a cultural center for all ages, providing a rich array of resources from community gardening to technology.  What was a floundering little library, has become a hub of activity providing much needed services to the community.

TPWD Awards Grant to Texoma Master Naturalist

Bluestem Chapter Texas Master Naturalist of Sherman has been awarded a $46,886 grant In honor of the State Park Centennial Celebration. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the money will be used for environmental education purposes where Master Naturalist volunteers will be trained and students can learn about mammals, birds, soils, weather, water, geology, fossils, and GPS at Saturday programs held at Eisenhower State Park, Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, and a city park.

Texas Master Naturalist are a corps of well-informed volunteers that provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.

Bluestem Chapter volunteers serve communities with Grayson County by partnering with Eisenhower State Park and Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge to offer educational, nature-based children’s program such as Nature-Ology, Refuge Rocks and school-based field trips.

Programs for adults include bird walks and watches and nature seminars.  The volunteers work to improve wildlife habitats and other natural spaces, including prairie restoration, Eastern Bluebird nestbox monitoring, butterfly garden upkeep and hiking trail maintenance.

Using Environmental Education Trunks to Promote Science Literacy and Outdoor Appreciation recruits and trains certified Master Naturalist volunteers to deliver interactive outreach programs using activities and materials from themed trunks for local fifth-grade classrooms.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP) has awarded the largest sum of grant funding in the program’s history and support a record-breaking number of organizations connecting under-represented audiences to Texas State Parks.

More than $2.8 million will create 55 new grant-funded partnerships to help communities in promote the value of recreation and conservation across Texas.

CO-OP grant recipients are as diverse as the communities in Texas they serve. They include conservation groups, nature centers, summer camps, churches, school districts and municipalities. Funding supports a range of projects: students monitoring water quality along the Rio Grande at Big Bend Ranch State Park, deaf youth engaged in nature study with the aid of ASL interpreters, communities of color hiking at Fort Davis State Park while connecting with the cultural history of Buffalo Soldiers and breast cancer survivors discovering the healing power of fly-fishing in our rivers. Each project removes barriers for Texans to connect with nature and the mission of TPWD, learning to hunt, fish, camp or paddle and beginning a lifelong path to conservation stewardship.

CO-OP was established by TPWD in 1996 to introduce under-represented audiences to environmental education, conservation and outdoor recreation programs. The program is housed under the Recreation Grants Branch in TPWD’s State Parks Division and is funded through a portion of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax collected in Texas. All grant projects are competitively funded through an annual Request for Proposals process and reviewed by an internal committee according to scoring criteria approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.  Grant funds may be used for supplies, travel, training, food, personnel costs and equipment for ongoing use.

Over the past 27 years, TPWD has awarded $27 million around the state to assist in this effort.


Oklahoma Wildlife Youth Camp 2023 Applications Available

Oklahoma Wildlife Youth Camp fishing

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is now accepting applications for this summer’s Wildlife Youth Camp for youths ages 14-16 on Lake Texoma. 

A week full of fun outdoor activities, conservation education and camaraderie is in store for dozens of lucky teens selected to attend the 2023 Wildlife Youth Camp. Applications are now being accepted through April 15th for this summer’s once-in-a-lifetime event. 

“If you are interested in hunting, fishing or a career with the Wildlife Department, then this camp is for you,” said Game Warden Lt. Dru Polk, youth camp coordinator.

“Campers will get a better understanding of wildlife and fisheries management as well as conservation law enforcement, and at the same time participating in some fun outdoor activities.”

The camp will be June 18-23, 2023 at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station at Lake Texoma.  Game wardens, wildlife and fisheries professionals, and dedicated hunter and angler volunteers will be conducting the camp and supervising activities. 

Activities will include fishing, archery, wildlife identification, rifle/shotgun shooting, ropes course, self-defense, wildlife law enforcement, wildlife and fisheries management, and deer/turkey/waterfowl hunting and law enforcement techniques. 

“What’s even better is that it’s all free for the campers,” thanks to the support of generous sponsors including the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Polk said. 

Applicants must be Oklahoma residents who will be 14 to 16 years old as of June 18. Prospective campers must fill out an application form and write a 75-word essay describing why they want to attend the camp, why they should be selected, and what they expect to learn. Also, they must furnish a letter of recommendation from someone other than a family member, and a recent photograph showing the applicant participating in an outdoor-related event or activity.  

The application form is online at https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/education/youth-opp/wildlife-youth-camp. The page also includes additional information about the camp and photos from previous years. Applications must be submitted by April 15.