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Humboldt Area Foundation grants $130,000 through Field of Interest Program

BAYSIDE- Humboldt Area Foundation recently awarded $130,422 to 66 projects throughout Humboldt, Del Norte, and Trinity Counties through the Field of Interest Grant Program. The program provides grants from a collection of 27 individual funds created by community members to support issues and programs that matter to them.
One such fund is the Ride to the Wild Fund. As school budgets dwindle, field trips have become a rare occurrence.  For many field trips the cost can exceed $1,000 for the bus trip alone.  This is why Melissa and Bill Zielinski created the Ride to the Wild Fund with Humboldt Area Foundation.  The Zielinskis both have backgrounds as educators and believe that if children are engaged in learning experiences outdoors, they have a better appreciation for how the preservation of natural places can enhance quality of life. This year, Ride to the Wild will send Humboldt County students on field trips to Redwood National Park, on a Madaket tour of Humboldt Bay, and to the Arcata Marsh. Students from Hoopa Valley Elementary School will have an especially enriching year thanks to the Zielinskis fund.  For the first time in several years, Hoopa elementary students will be able to travel to the coast for a wide variety of educational experiences.  First graders will visit Humboldt State University’s Marine Laboratory and Trinidad tide pools. Seventh graders will attend the Redwood Environmental Education Fair (REEF) at College of the Redwoods. Sixth graders will travel to Weaverville to camp and learn about geology, fisheries management and watershed restoration in addition to a trip to the Trinity fish hatchery.
The Zielinskis not only provide their own money for the Ride to the Wild Fund, they also write grants and encourage donations to increase access to field trips.
In addition, services for senior citizens and animal companion programs are two of the six focus areas of the Field of Interest grants. A program funded this year that fits both categories is Humboldt Spay/Neuter Network’s Helping Hand for Seniors and Their Pets Medical Assistance Program.  This program provides financial assistance to low-income seniors to obtain veterinary care for their urgently ill or injured cats and dogs and assist seniors with keeping their pets healthy and in the home.
One of the funders of the Humboldt Spay/Neuter Network’s program is the McAlister Family Fund which was established in 1993 to honor beloved family members and to enhance quality of life for Humboldt seniors. Born in 1920, Opal McAlister, the surviving member of the fund’s founding family, recalls the decision to start a fund, “We decided to create the fund because everyone was doing well at the time and felt that it would be nice to be part of Humboldt Area Foundation and have our names in the yearbook. We were all seniors at the time of establishing the fund and decided to have our contributions support senior services, especially the Senior Center.  For the last two or three years we started donating to companion animal programs for seniors.  I like the added interest of caring for animals. Taking care of animals is important because so many seniors have pets they are attached to and it’s important to have them taken care of.  I like the feeling that some of the seniors can have things done because of our fund when they can’t afford to otherwise.” 
Some projects appeal to intellectual pursuits or emotional well-being.  Other projects offer creative solutions to everyday problems.  A grant proposal from Salmon Creek Community School, located in a remote rural area 10 miles outside Miranda, was submitted to the Southern Humboldt Field of Interest. The selection committee members went through each application. Each one read the well-researched, somewhat technical request for Clivus Multrum System improvements at the school. It took some time for each member to find themselves exclaiming that what was actually being requested was the repair of the school’s two high-tech composting toilet systems. Students, teachers and community members had been using portable toilets at the school for the past two years. How could they pass on this request?  The Clivus Multrum improvements, which are water-efficient and included insulation and a solar fan to boost composting in colder months was funded by the Monroe Tobin Family Fund, established by Southern Humboldt native, Monroe Tobin to benefit seniors and youth in Southern Humboldt. 
For each of the 66 programs funded in this year’s grant round there are as many stories of community members working on the front lines to improve quality of life in Humboldt County and the generosity of those who set aside money for the betterment of generations to come.
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