SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Students can learn what gives the Prairie State its name this summer thanks to a grant program that pays for field trips to study Illinois’ biodiversity.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have announced $107,000 in Biodiversity Field Trip Grants. The money will allow 9,800 students from 35 counties to take nature-based field trips.

Rauner says the field trips will teach students the importance of conserving and protecting the environment. The funds come from private donations and have paid for 148 field trips this year.

Teachers from all grades are encouraged to apply for next year’s funding cycle. Applications are due Jan. 31.

The grant program has distributed more than $1 million since its creation in 2001.

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