(10/11/13) - The Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission has 1.8 million reasons to be happy.
The C.S. Mott Foundation just awarded it another grant to help keep the parks operating like they should.
Inside the For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum, you'll find turtles, bees and a couple dozen happy faces.
"It's a nice hands-on way for them to actually see it, instead of just in a text book," said Michelle VanTol, of St. Robert School.
VanTol's second grade class from St. Robert School in Flushing is here for a field trip, focused on science.
Without a big boost from the C.S. Mott Foundation, facilities like this might not always be available.
"Some parks might be closed. For-Mar would probably be closed a couple of months out of the year. Christmas at Crossroads would be canceled, so there are just all of these tremendously devastating things that would happen without this tremendous support," said Amy McMillian, Genesee County Parks director.
McMillian is thrilled that for the fourth year, the Mott Foundation is lending a helping hand.
"$1.8 million is nearly 20 percent of our budget," she said.
That grant helps fill the void left by lower property values that has shrunk what the parks bring in through a millage.
Jennifer Acree, with the Mott Foundation, believes the grant is a win-win. The parks continue to offer free and low-cost recreation and the economy improves too.
"They bring in revenue through the Warrior Dash, people come and stay in the region, and use other amenities in the region," she said.
That adds up to $16 million for the local economy, not to mention money that helps fund awesome science lessons for these second graders.
"I don't know what I'd do without this place. I wouldn't have a place to go to close to home," VanTol said.
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