The commissioner of natural resources must establish and administer a program to provide grants for outdoor environmental, ecological, and other natural-resource-based education and recreation programs serving youth.
The commissioner may award grants under this section to public entities or private nonprofit organizations.
In awarding grants under this section, the commissioner must give priority to programs that:
(1) provide students with opportunities to directly experience and understand nature and the natural world;
(2) use a research-based, effective environmental, ecological, agricultural, or other natural-resource-based educational curriculum;
(3) maximize the number of participants that can be served;
(4) serve children with limited opportunities to participate in natural-resource-based outdoor activities;
(5) use public park and other natural resource venues and personnel as a resource; and
(6) commit matching funds or in-kind resources.