Growing future leaders: Playing in the dirt offers a lesson about nature
Students at Arabia Mountain High School in Atlanta don't need to go far to appreciate the natural beauty of their region. The school is nestled in a 2,000-acre preserve brimming with native plant and animal species, set among a topography of granite outcrops that are unique to Georgia. This connection to nature results in kids who are driven to learn about the environment, making Arabia Mountain an ideal place for the first of 11 Atlanta-area garden build projects in the Nature Works Everywhere program.
Nature Works Everywhere is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and the Captain Planet Foundation, with funding from CSX Transportation and media support from the Environmental Media Association. The Nature Conservancy, one of the largest conservation organizations in the United States, also runs an immersion project for high school students called LEAF, giving students the opportunity to experience what it's like to do conservation work as a career.
In this video, Deron Davis of The Nature Conservancy and Leesa Carter of the Captain Planet Foundation talk about the impact that hands-on gardening projects can have on high school students like those at Arabia Mountain.
“This community has really come together around the theme of the environment and how it will help their students learn,” says Davis. “I believe that by connecting them to the ground, they will carry that ethic with them into their life.”
Teens participating in the program say the experience has given them an opportunity to see nature in a whole new way. The organizers hope this exposure will result in increased environmental awareness, no matter what career path a student chooses.
"When kids get to do that work, and they get to see the impact that they're having personally, the engagement is amazing, and that's why these partnerships work," says Carter.
Learn more about the garden program at natureworkseverywhere.org.