Fifty students from The Howard School will continue “Environmental Connections,” for 2014 on Thursday. “Environmental Connections” is an environmental education and outdoor classroom project engaging The Howard School in Chattanooga and staff and volunteers from Lookout Mountain Conservancy.
The Tennessee American Water Company provided funding for the pilot project last fall, which focused on restoration of half an acre of land that is a steep kudzu- and trash-covered ravine draining to Chattanooga Creek and the Tennessee River. The students will be on site Thursday at John C. Wilson Park, 1971 Cummings Highway, Chattanooga, Tn. 37409, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Additional work days are scheduled for March 20, April 10 and April 24.
Ninth through twelfth graders from Howard began work last fall at the 10-acre tract on Cummings Highway and Old Wauhatchie Pike at the base of Lookout Mountain removing trash, conducting soil tests and water sampling, and uncovering plants overgrown by kudzu and other invasive exotic plants.
“The southern slope to the ravine, now known as “Howard Hill” has been cleared. Now it’s time to advance to the North, taking the rest of The Hill,” said Robyn Carlton, LMC’s CEO. “These kids 'own' this ravine. They’ve made huge progress against a fierce foe - kudzu - and discovered great inner strength at the same time. I am so proud to be working with these amazing students."
“Through projects such as this, young people make important environmental connections between their lifestyle choices and the world around them,” said Melissa Greever, science teacher for the Howard School. “By taking our students into the field and giving them the tools to explore the natural world, they see the real impact of how we all can make a difference taking care of our environment. And they feel empowered by helping their community, reaching beyond themselves to create something good."
A health initiative has been added to this program. In partnership with the Southeast Youth Corp, a Ride a Bike, Earn a Bike program has been incorporated into the day’s activities when the students come to the property.
"This is so wonderful for our students to be able to work and play (ride bikes) in the park and on the trails they are building,” said Donna Tehari, teacher for the Howard School.
Students who complete all requirements for the bike program will earn a mountain bike at the end of the school year.
Lookout Mountain Conservancy was founded in 1991, and its focus area covers the full 93 miles of Lookout Mountain, from Hamilton County, Tn., to Etowah County, Al. The mission of Lookout Mountain Conservancy is to protect Lookout Mountain’s scenic, historic and ecological resources, through conservation, advocacy, recreation and education for current and future generations. The organization provides environmental education and information to landowners and other interested parties about land conservation options. Lookout Mountain Conservancy promotes greenway development and conservation planning.
For more information about LMC and the “Environmental Connections” project, contact Robyn Carlton, LMC CEO at 423 322-8053 or visit the website www.lookoutmountainconservancy.org.