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Columbia Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, Missouri Department of Conservation director Sara Parker Pauley and CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood prepare to cut the ribbon for the October 18, 2023 dedication of the Boone County Nature School's Council House (file photo courtesy of CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark)

(LISTEN): Boone County Nature School will serve all six school districts in county

Columbia Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, Missouri Department of Conservation director Sara Parker Pauley and CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood prepare to cut the ribbon for the October 18, 2023 dedication of the Boone County Nature School’s Council House (file photo courtesy of CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark)

Boone County has contributed about $400,000 to the Boone County Nature School, which is being built in the Three Creeks Conservation area between Columbia and Ashland.

The nature school is a partnership between Columbia Public Schools (CPS), the Missouri Department of Conservation and all six Boone County school districts. Boone County commissioner Janet Thompson tells “Wake Up Mid-Missouri” she’s impressed.

“It gives an opportunity for every kid in Boone County, every school district in Boone County, while it’s sort of under the supervision in part of Columbia Public Schools (CPS), it is available to every single school-age child in Boone County to participate in programs out there,” Thompson says.

Boone County Presiding Commissioner Kip Kendrick, Missouri Department of Conservation director Sara Parker Pauley, CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood and other officials and conservation advocates gather for the October 18, 2023 ribbon-cutting for the Boone County Nature School’s new Council House (photo courtesy of CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark)

The 111-acre Boone County Nature School is expected to open in June 2024. It’s located just west of Highway 63 near Tom Bass road.

Boone County has received $35-million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, and received more than 100 applications totaling $84-million for the first-round of grants alone. Boone County northern district commissioner Janet Thompson tells 939 the Eagle’s “Wake Up Mid-Missouri” that 27 applications were funded in the first round, telling listeners that commissioners made tough decisions.

“The question becomes are they sustainable, are they transformative? Because that’s part of the legislation is a project sustainable, is it transformative? Is it going to make that systemic difference in how our community looks and acts,” says Thompson.

Commissioner Thompson says Boone County hopes to get the second round of ARPA grants going in 2024, and she’s encouraging applicants who didn’t receive funding the first time to resubmit.

You can listen to the full “Wake Up” interview with Janet Thompson here.

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