A $15,000 grant from the Jackson EMC Foundation will be used by Elachee Nature Science Center for its Science Education Programming this year, benefiting some 7,200 students (PreK-12).
Elachee officials say the funding has helped subsidize a portion of student program fees for Elachee’s STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) environmental education field trips to the Nature Center and the "Elachee in Your Classroom" outreach classes for schools unable to bring their students to Elachee.
“Because of this generous grant award, Elachee is able to provide educational experiences for even more students from the varied and diverse communities that comprise the Cooperative’s service area,” states Peter Gordon, Elachee’s Director of Education.
Elachee has made this grant funding available to schools throughout Jackson EMC’s 10-county service area throughout the 2019-2020 school year. Kristin Love, Elachee’s Registrar, is finding that more and more schools face significant financial challenges in taking students off-site for field trips.
“There is no better feeling,” confides Kristin, "than offering a discounted program fee to a teacher struggling to find funds so that all students may attend Elachee’s enjoyable and educational programs. “It is such a gift to not only be able to ease that financial burden, but to also observe the joy on each of the students’ faces” as they relish in being away from their desks, hiking in Chicopee Woods." She feels that, “it is absolutely priceless!”
Educators, meanwhile, have been quick to weigh in about the opportunities the grant has offered their students.
“Our Elachee instructor was amazing,” says a satisfied teacher from New Holland Elementary. “She was so knowledgeable of every topic and very friendly. The students were engaged and interested in what she had to say, probably because she connected with them and made the content applicable to them.”
A small class of special needs students from Lumpkin County High was thrilled to make a return visit to Elachee in January, as they do not often have the chance to attend field trips. “I just wanted to say thank you, again!” says their teacher. “Our class had a wonderful time at Elachee today. Our instructor was great with our kids and the lunch accommodations were perfect for a rainy day. We would love to come again!”
“Our school had an awesome time at Elachee,” says a teacher from Freeman’s Mill Elementary. “Everyone was so friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating.” In particular, the interactive Elachee Seeing Stars Program her students enjoyed earned rave reviews. She recalls the Elachee educator’s focus on stars and constellations, while inside the Starlab planetarium, kept the students engaged, as well as from hearing stories about the constellations.
“We (teachers) are confident that our students gained a lot of new knowledge from this trip,” added one educator from Minor Elementary about her school’s visit to Elachee. “This was unanimously our best field trip yet! Imagine our surprise to be greeted at the bus. Our instructor was very animated and did a great job keeping the students’ attention. We will definitely be returning in the future.”
Elachee’s grade-appropriate curriculum correlates with the Georgia Standards for Excellence and Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Academic Knowledge and Skills. Each year, nearly 35,000 children and teens from dozens of metro-Atlanta and North Georgia school systems engage in an educational experience at Elachee. As the only nature center in the southeastern U.S. accredited by the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools, Elachee’s skilled educators provide these students with natural world, hands-on interactions that complement their classroom learning.
For schools visiting Elachee, its team of educators utilize the natural environs of the 1,440-acre Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve as an outdoor classroom. However, a trip to Elachee is not always logistically possible for some schools. So, Elachee educators can also take the Nature Center’s most popular science and environmental education programming on the road with "Elachee in Your Classroom" options.