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Scrapbook: Connecting Educators and their Children to Nature

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Sierra Club Scrapbook

July 01, 2010

Connecting Educators and their Children to Nature


The second annual Growing Roots Teacher Workshop was held at the Camp McDowell Environmental Center (MEC) in Nauvoo, Alabama, the next-to-last week in June.


Twenty-one teachers brought along 31 of their children and grandchildren to explore, learn, andas MEC Director Maggie Wade Johnston puts it"just have good old-fashioned fun together!"


The workshop was sponsored by the Alabama Sierra Club and the Club's national Water Sentinels program.


"We learned how to create art through mosaics, using recycled and reused material," says Johnston, a longtime Sierra Club activist and former Alabama Chapter chair. "We studied fossils and then went to a world-famous fossil site, the Minkin Trackway site, near the camp."


Workshop participants explored the creeks and ponds around Camp McDowell by studying the invertebrates and by tubing the waters of Clear Creek.


They also canoed, hiked, told stories and sang songs around the campfire, and learned about a range of subjects, from bird behavior to pond and stream ecology to Climate Change Made Simple.


"It was an amazing three days that was a time to bond, not only with your children, but also Nature and the wonders around us," Johnston says.


The Camp McDowell Environmental Center is part of the larger Camp McDowell, an Episcopal camp and conference center located on 1,100+ acres of forest, river canyons, and waterfalls in northwest Alabama.


Camp Director Mark Johnston (Maggie's husband) started the environmental center in 1991, the year after he became the camp's executive director. He traces his environmental activism to his confronting a strip-mining operation that was harming the watershed where he lived, near Camp McDowell. He led an eight-year fight that ultimately compelled the restoration of wetlands and water quality and the protection of 226 acres of national forest lands.

See more photos of the Growing Roots workshop. And find the Sierra Club's Alabama Chapter on Facebook.


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