Alicia Thompson, Senior Director of Learning and Engagement
Sam Leaf, Outreach and Partnerships Specialist
Sometimes we call them our partners; often, we call them our friends. Chattahoochee Nature Center cherishes our community partnerships, which are always a highlight of our summer programming. CNC Learning and Engagement staff are winding down from a fantastic school year and are gearing up for the summer season, where we will connect with thousands of students and adults from across metro Atlanta. We are thrilled to host several organizations at CNC, offering immersive nature experiences, and we are grateful for the foundations and organizations whose support makes our programming possible.
Georgia Forestry Foundation
Georgia Forestry Foundation (GFF) has been a valued partner of CNC since 2017, collaborating to bring forest ecology and forest career education to thousands of students in the metro Atlanta area. This summer, CNC will host 600 students from Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Georgia and Chattooga, Gordon, Murray, and Whitfield Counties. CNC and GFF share a love of forests and enthusiasm for connecting youth to potential forestry careers. With CNC’s 127 acres serving as the ideal campus, students will engage in hands-on activities to learn about the different ways to care for our forests, including identifying indicators of tree health decline, exploring the components of fertile soil, recognizing the significance of biodiversity in maintaining healthy forests, differentiating between the benefits of controlled fires and destructive wildfires, and embracing the peace that forests provide.
CNC is a proud partner of Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside program, providing foundational outdoor experiences for underserved youth during the summer and serving campers from both Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta and City of Atlanta’s Camp Best Friends. Led by the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, the Thrive Outside Atlanta Community brings together a diverse network of partners in West Atlanta and along the Chattahoochee River. This summer, CNC outreach programming will travel to students for a series of programs that will serve 350 students. Programs will feature live animals and highlight the Chattahoochee River watershed, urban wildlife, and our intrinsic connection with nature.
CNC’s longstanding, multi-faceted partnership with Fulton County Arts and Culture serves to connect Fulton County residents with nature. This summer, CNC will work closely with partners throughout the county and will deliver over 20 programs onsite at CNC and as outreach programming at community locations. Last summer, CNC served over 1,000 residents in these programs, and we expect to exceed these numbers this year. Below are a few program highlights:
Fulton County Libraries – CNC will bring outreach programs to library patrons at ten library branches across the county. The library summer theme is “All Together Now” – CNC naturalists will help interpret how we are ‘all together’ in supporting our environment and that we are all connected to the earth and to each other.
Fulton County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities – CNC hosted a wonderful Spring Fling for over 100 clients and guests. Fulton County’s services aim to improve the lives of people with disabilities – CNC shares nature experiences with clients year-round.
Fulton County District Attorney – CNC will welcome 180 students participating in the Fulton County Junior DA program. The Youth Program serves 6th to 9th graders attending Fulton County public schools identified as having high crime/gang risk. The students attend a week-long program that introduces them to various components of the criminal justice system, while their day at CNC provides a contrast to the rest of their experience. According to Natalie Zellner, Deputy District Attorney – Programs, Grants, and Intergovernmental Relations, “The idea to incorporate nature 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 Naturalists are preparing programs that facilitate reflection, find a pause in their busy lives, and encourage them to embrace the positive impact nature has on our well-being.
We celebrate these partnerships that help CNC share the wonders of nature with our community. From career exploration to health and wellness, nature has much to offer. CNC is here to encourage learning, and we invite you to tap in and step into nature with us!