PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Audubon Society of Rhode Island is getting a $100,000 boost from the federal government to continue the Environmental Education for Urban Schools Initiative.

The Audubon Society started the program 17 years ago to educate children on the importance of animals and the environment in cities across the state free of charge.

“Over the years, we have worked with foundations and corporations to get grants to kind of piece it together,” Audubon Society of Rhode Island Executive Director Lawrence Taft said. “But I think the crowning achievement is to get a federal grant to fund this program … it really shows that the program has legs and that it’s a quality program.”

Sen. Jack Reed, who helped secure the funding, joined 3rd grade students at Elizabeth Baldwin Elementary School Wednesday, where students got a visit from an owl.

“It’s fun to see kids get excited about learning and animal encounters,” Reed said. “When kids get a chance to learn about owls up close, they make a connection and want to help protect these magnificent creatures and their habitat.”