Cox Communications awards grant to help rebuild OCDE’s Inside the Outdoors program

It’s been nearly a year since the devastating Bond Fire swept through Rancho Soñado, claiming the home of OCDE’s Inside the Outdoors program. But with support from the Orange County community and a grant from Cox Communications, the program is working to rebuild.

Inside the Outdoors Foundation was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from Cox Charities, which will help restore its popular animal ambassador program. Funded by employee donations that are company-matched, Cox Charities grants support organizations like ITO with programs focused on innovative STEM opportunities for K-12 students beyond the classroom.

Over 10,000 Orange County students each year have experienced a connection to Inside the Outdoors through the Traveling Scientist and animal ambassador programs. However, according to ITO Coordinator Lori Kiesser, the program has been working to rebuild since losing all but four of its animals in the fire.

“The loss is profound because the animals were family to ITO staff and to the thousands of students each year who met the ambassadors during a Traveling Scientist classroom visit,” said Kiesser. “With help from this grant, we are able to build new homes for animals such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects, thus giving students access to environmental education concepts that are easier to grasp when learning comes to life.”

OCDE’s Inside the Outdoors has been a leader in hands-on science and social science programs since 1974. The mission of the program is to empower students, teachers, parents and the community to explore natural areas and expand their knowledge, understanding and stewardship of the environment.

To learn more about Inside the Outdoors, visit the ITO website.