The GTC Environmental Education Grant was established to support educators and organizations committed to developing educational projects about the gopher tortoise and the fascinating world in which it lives. The grant also honors Donna J. Heinrich, an environmental educator, whose life was dedicated to conserving wildlife and their associated habitats. Grant proposals may focus on the conservation of gopher tortoises, other upland species, and their associated habitats.  

Please send submissions and questions to George L. Heinrich at
Grant recipients will be announced at the annual Gopher Tortoise Council meeting.

Please click here for more information on eligibility, reporting requirements, and application guidelines and format.

The deadline for proposals each year is September 30.

Due to Hurricane Ian, The Gopher Tortoise Council is postponing the deadline of the Donna J. Heinrich Environmental Education Grant from September 30th until October 15th. Please email the final application for review to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Year Recipient Purpose
2020 Lee Co. FL Parks and Recreation Conservation 20/20 For materials that will help educate students/public on gopher tortoise and upland habitat conservation. 
2020 Loggerhead Marinelife Center For materials that will help educate the public on gopher tortoise habitat, ecology, and conservation. 
2019 Friends of Okeeheelee Nature Center For educational materials including a gopher tortoise activity book, a gopher tortoise mural, and other materials for use during quarterly “Gopher Tortoise Celebration” days 
2019 University of Florida/IFAS Nassau Co. Extension Establishment of a community-built Gopher Tortoise Garden habitat which will be used to host educational events in concert with sustainable gardening to feed exhibit animals 
2018 Flint RiverQuarium To create a gopher tortoise enclosure in concert with sustainable gardening to feed exhibit animals
2018 Manatee County To create a crawl through fabric tortoise burrow and tortoise and commensal puppets
2017 Georgia Department of Natural Resources To create a traveling gopher tortoise habitat exhibit to carry the conservation message to various venues around Georgia
2016 Tree Hill Nature Center To improve an exhibit, provide new signage and develop and print educational brochures
2016 Jonathan Dickinson State Park Purchase of burrow camera to use for children’s and outreach programs
2015 Zoo Miami To create a visitor engagement cart to be manned by Teen Conservation Scientists (high school volunteers) to interact with zoo visitors concerning gopher tortoises and upland conservation
2015 Chinsegut Nature Center Purchase of burrow scope with DVR capability to reach school age children through their nature programs
2014 Madeleine Dunphy Children’s book entitled “At Home with the Gopher Tortoise: The Story of a Keystone Species”
2014 Water Works Environmental Education Center Interpretive panels for gopher tortoise enclosure
2013 Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital Keystone Species Interpretation Signage
2013 Pasco County Environmental Lands Gopher Tortoises – Heart of the Sandhills
2013 Chinsegut Conservation Center Gopher Tortoise Burrow
2012 The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center at Nokuse Plantation Habitat Restoration of the Gopher Tortoise Habitat Display
2012 Chehaw Wild Animal Park in Albany, Georgia Gopher Tortoise Population Survey and Community Programming
2011 Joshua School, SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education Sustainability and Diversity) Creation of the Tortuga Trail: A “living Classroom” Approach to Achieving Gopher Tortoise and Upland Habitat Conservation
2010 Zander Strodes Reprinting 5,000 copies of the Gopher Tortoise Activity book to be distributed for free. You can download a copy from the Education page on this site
2010 Alabama Coastal Foundation Gulf Coast Bay Buddie Program: Development and printing of activity books for K-3 students that are given to students after attending an outreach program
2009 Fort White Middle School/High School Providing materials for their educational program: Restore the long leaf pine forest and preserve the upland sandhill ecosystem at Ichetucknee Springs State Park
2009 Friends of the Enchanted Forest Providing materials for 3 educational programs: Gopher Tortoise Investigation, Gopher Tortoise Outreach, and Gopher Tortoise Cart
2008 The Jekyll Island Foundation Materials for two educational programs: Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins, Oh My! and Turtles for Tomorrow that teaches conservation of gopher tortoises considering habitat loss, modification and fragmentation, the illegal pet trade, URTD and the importance of tortoises as a keystone species
2007 Kristin Wood Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Center Chinsegut Nature Center Tortoise Trail
2006 Abbe Gleicher, Carver Middle School Carver Middle’s Gopher Tortoise Preserve
2006 Sheryl Terepka, J. Collin English Elementary School The Junior Creek Explorers Investigate Gopher Tortoises at Powell Creek Preserve
2005 Daniel A. DeSousa Scrub Habitat Instructional Research Program
2004 Paula H. Chambers, Ph.D. West Bainbridge Elementary School Look! Do You Think Something Lives in This Hole? Elementary students learn about the gopher tortoise and the characteristic animals that live in gopher tortoise burrows. Students examine the importance of conservation of the longleaf pine ecosystem