CNC (heart)’s Fulton County
By Alicia Thompson, Senior Director of Learning and Engagement
Chattahoochee Nature Center’s multi-faceted partnership with Fulton County serves to support the center in many ways, one of which is to help connect Fulton County residents with nature. This summer, CNC worked closely with a few distinct groups in the county and served over 1,000 residents in these programs during Summer 2022. CNC is so very grateful for the longstanding support from Fulton County that allows CNC to reach thousands of individuals each year. Below are a few highlights from Fulton County supported summer programs and partnerships.
Los Niños Primero
The mission of Los Niños Primero is Empowering Latino students and their families from early childhood to college through holistic academic, leadership, and community programs. Working under the summer theme of “Cultivating kindness and gratitude”, CNC provided nature programs for students aging 3-8 years old. At the start of the summer, Los Niños Primero instructors met at CNC for a day of training and learning CNC’s 127 acres. As part of the program’s summer calendar, students experienced a guided nature program at CNC at the start of the summer program, and then returned to CNC toward the end of the program with their class to again experience CNC as an ‘outdoor classroom’. Los Niños Primero instructors were encouraged to use the outdoor setting to teach and to share lessons while immersed in nature. These programs provided almost 700 experiences for students during June and July.
CNC and Los Niños Primero also teamed up in July to host a Mayor’s Summer Reading Club event at the Ben Brady Lakeside Pavilion for the 2nd year in a row for 150 parents and children. As stated on the MSRC website, The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club (MSRC) is a program for children ages birth to five and their families that takes place in various locations throughout the City of Atlanta each summer. Every year, we announce a city-wide book choice for infants and children ages 2-5 to share with their families. We work with direct service programs to distribute copies of the books at no cost to children, and we encourage schools and early education programs to introduce the story and distribute the books to children they serve.
Throughout the summer, institutions in Atlanta hold “book club reads” to model research-based methods of reading books with children and host enrichment events based upon the stories. The books come to life as children enjoy arts and crafts activities, drama exercises, and other hands-on activities designed to make the language in the stories meaningful to children. This summer’s book for 3 to 5-year-olds is another collaboration between GEEARS’ Mayor’s Summer Reading Club, the Alliance Theatre, and the Atlanta Speech School, funded by our partners at PNC. The book, Atlanta, My Home, is written by local author Breanna J. McDaniel, and again illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.
Families and children enjoyed a Spanish-language animal encounter delivered by bilingual CNC Docent Frank Viera, as well as a magic show, and storybook reading with staff from the Alliance Theatre.
Los Niños Primero students enjoying storytime and an animal encounter at CNC this summer
Fulton County Libraries
CNC partnered with seven Fulton County libraries in the south district of the county to share our outreach programs with library patrons. This summer’s theme was “Oceans of Possibilities” and CNC naturalist shared live animals and interpretive environmental education. The photos say it all!
Office of the Fulton County District Attorney
The Office of the Fulton County District Attorney is the largest and busiest prosecutor’s office in Georgia, led by Fani T. Willis, the first woman District Attorney for Fulton County. The Youth Program serves 6th to 9th graders attending Fulton County public schools that have been identified as high-crime/gang activity risk. The students meet weekly and are exposed to various components of the criminal justice system. According to Natalie Zellner, Deputy District Attorney – Programs, Grants, and Intergovernmental Relations, “The idea to incorporate the Center into Camp started with DA saying that everyone must learn tools to cope with fear and anxiety and nature is the best tool to do that.” CNC Hosted almost 100 students over the course of the summer.
“We are so thankful for your partnership. Each week, many of the youth told Madame DA that the Chattahoochee Nature Center was their favorite part of the week!
Additionally, the engagement from the CNC Board and staff was phenomenal. We based our program on a youth program started in Los Angeles that has a pillar adult sharing their career path, hurdles overcome and long-term reward to contrast with the short term, fast money gains of crime. If we change the course of two youth a week, it’s worth it!
Going forward, Fulton County Schools has asked the DA’s office to continue our partnership and create an in-school program for at risk youth in target middle and high schools in South Fulton. Superintendent Looney is really focused on redirecting these youth and helping them. Right now, many schools are beyond capacity and these youth really require more attention. The Center’s existing programs are a great fit for these youth.”
CNC looks forward to continuing to grow this partnership to help students connect with and tap into the physical and mental health benefits that nature has to offer.
Fulton County Community Services Program CAMP KINGFISHER
Fulton County selected CNC as one of several Community Services Program providers, where CNC partnered with STARHouse and Los Niños Primero to offer 100% scholarship-funded camp experiences for children who would not have traditionally been able to participate in Camp Kingfisher. Campers were fully immersed in the Camp K day, including canoeing, archery, science and art, hiking, and so much more.
Part traditional outdoor camp and part hands-on nature education, Camp Kingfisher offers something for everyone. Our goal is to provide a welcoming environment where campers connect to nature and each other. Outdoor adventuring and learning abound on CNC’s 127 incredible acres.
Camp Kingfisher provides a unique opportunity to connect to the outdoors, make strides in personal growth, and increase self-confidence. Through a combination of nature-based activities, outdoor play, a supportive community, and educators who teach to every learning style our campers are guided along the “growing-up” process. Our goal is to increase the children’s awareness of the world around them, nurture an interest in science and nature study, foster a sense of belonging and help every child understand and reach their full potential.
CNC is proud of the partnerships it has formed with Fulton County and looks forward to continuing to connect people with nature.