Connecting Los Niños with Nature

Sam Leaf, Outreach and Partnerships Specialist


In May of this year, Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) was honored as a 2023 Fulton County Community Services Program (CSP) Partner, receiving recognition and funding for its contributions to essential community services. Community Services, a division of the Fulton County Department of Community Development, administers and coordinates the County’s Human Services Delivery Network. This network brings together nonprofit service providers, community-based organizations, churches, citizens, private sector, and other local governments to address the issues related to Fulton County residents. CNC was awarded funds in the Children and Youth Services category and expanded its existing partnership with Los Ninos Primeros (LNP) to launch the Connecting Los Ninos with Nature program. Funding for the Connecting Los Ninos with Nature program is provided in part by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of the Department of Community Development.

Since 2020, CNC has proudly partnered with LNP, an organization dedicated to empowering Latino students and their families through holistic academic, leadership, and community programs. Previously focused on more singular experiences – this year’s CSP funding allowed the partnership to broaden its scope, offering year-round, repeat nature experiences for all grade levels, families, teen volunteers, and teachers. We believe that students who participate in repeated outdoor experiences at CNC and in their neighborhoods increase their comfort with being outdoors and allow them to develop a sense of place, leading to lasting benefits in their everyday lives.

The Connecting Los Ninos with Nature program kicked off with a training session for LNP teachers at CNC’s campus, introducing them to outdoor spaces for field trips and brainstorming ideas on how to incorporate the outdoors into their lessons. From here, over 600 LNP students, teen volunteers, and staff visited CNC this summer for a naturalist-led program, where students met live animals and learned about connecting with the nature around us. These field trips were complemented by outreach programs delivered at LNP locations in the community, where CNC Naturalists shared engaging nature activities and animal encounters with students. In September, the Young Naturalist After-School Club began, providing middle school students weekly programs. Through engaging activities, such as nature journaling, animal encounters, and exploring surrounding natural habitats, students honed their skills to deepen their connection to nature and become environmental stewards. CNC was also proud to host LNP’s Youth Volunteer Leadership meeting in the fall. Along with providing an event space for their meeting, the Youth Leadership team enjoyed a team bonding experience canoeing on one of CNC’s ponds.

The Connecting Los Ninos with Nature program also engaged LNP families. This summer, CNC hosted LNP for the annual Mayors Summer Reading Club (MSRC) event. The MSRC is a program for children ages birth to five and their families that takes place in various locations throughout Atlanta each summer. In summer, organizations like CNC 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 activities, drama, and other hands-on activities designed to make the language in the stories meaningful to children. Families were also treated to a bilingual live animal encounter presented by one of CNC’s incredible docents. In the fall, CNC continued to engage families and hosted LNP Family Days. These monthly invitations provided free admission to LNP families to enjoy CNC’s 127 acres of forestland, wetland, and riverfront property together.

CNC is grateful to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and the Department of Community Development to be provided with the wonderful opportunity to expand our strong partnership with Los Ninos Primero, delivering community-wide, nature experiences to hundreds of Fulton County citizens. We succeeded in reaching our goal of providing best-in-class environmental education programming to LNP students that not only sparked a connection with nature but promoted wellness and encouraged life-long learning and environmental stewardship. Thanks to the CSP, CNC and LNP successfully partnered to serve the community and bring to life our shared missions of connecting people with nature and inspiring lifelong learning.