Environmental Education Program

The Problem

The purpose of this project is to help the Tennessee River Gorge Trust--dedicated to land preservation, education, and the promotion of good land stewardship--expand the educational component of its mission. For years, educational programming at the Trust was dormant. I was hired as an intern, then as a staff member taking on a variety of tasks, and volunteered in Januray of 2007 to brush off the educational program and begin informing people about their global and local environment. Our first project involved the Urban League's National Achievers Society, whose members had very little to no experience in nature. It was so exciting to see them light up when they saw the mountains and hills rising from the TN River for the very first time. I have also worked with a Board Member, Dr. Henry Spratt, to begin a tutoring program between private high schoolers and elementary school children living in an urban housing project. The children were taught about the Gorge from January to April, when they took a trip to the Gorge and were introduced to the outdoors. They were eager to learn and happily played games, did arts and crafts, and hiked with Dr. Spratt and myself. Now, I would like to continue to introduce children and adults to the natural world through a series of educational evenings and night hikes. I plan to lead most of them, as I have done since January, but I would also like to pay a professional storyteller for an evening in September, and to provide snacks and art materials to the kids. I have honestly gained as much--if not more--from this program than the kids; seeing them excited and active outdoors...inciting a reverence in them for the natural world...is truly a blessing to me, and, I believe, to our global comunity.

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