Help us Give Area Students an Educational Day on the River

At the Altamaha Riverkeeper, we believe that those who see and experience the Altamaha’s wildlife and biodiversity firsthand, and who come to know some of its history, ultimately become the river’s strongest supporters.

To that end, we have begun to develop a program that we hope will give every 7th grader in Glynn and McIntosh counties the opportunity to spend a day on a guided kayaking trip on the Altamaha.

To make it happen, we need your help.

We are calling it the Altamaha Learning Lab. By establishing an outdoor education program that would take students on guided single-day field trips on a portion of the river, we believe we can enhance understanding of the important role the Altamaha plays in Georgia’s environmental health and its importance to the economic wellbeing of the state and the Georgia coast.

We want to model this program on a very successful similar program in the Charleston area. Since 2012, the South Carolina Outdoor Education Project has been taking approximately 2,000 middle schoolers a year from Charleston schools for a day of kayaking and outdoor education. We have consulted with the director of that program, and he is enthusiastic about contributing time and energy to help us make a similar program happen here.

During year one of the Altamaha Learning Lab, we are proposing to acquire and develop the locations and also the educational curriculum and logistics to support the kayak trips. We want to develop the curriculum for the experience to compliment and enhances Georgia science requirements for 7th graders. The Georgia Standards of Excellence for Science for 7th grade currently include frameworks around organism interdependence, nutrient cycling, designing environmental plans and modeling ecosytems, so we are optimistic there will be a fit.

We believe Cathead Creek, an Altamaha river tributary west of Darien would be an ideal location to provide this educational experience. This area provides a natural two-hour trail (perfect for a 3-hour program) that showcases the majesty and diversity of Altamaha’s floodplain. Kayakers pass through narrow rice canals and beneath the canopy of a mature cypress swamp. It is unspoiled and rich with a variety of plants and wildlife. Its attributes are difficult to duplicate in such a small area elsewhere on the river. It has the benefit of being a loop trail, which simplifies logistics, and the currents are mild and generally do not present a problem for young kayakers.

We are working with outdoor outfitters and local governments to begin to get the pieces in place, but we need a funding base of $40,000 to cover the start-up expenses budgeted for a proposed 2-year pilot program.

We are also pleased that the “Altamaha Learning Lab” project was included on a list of projects curated and recently endorsed by the philanthropic steering group, the Stewards of the Georgia Coast. The Stewards said our project, included on its final list, was “worthy of philanthropic support” and “will advance the protection and stewardship of Georgia’s coast in very important ways.”

We appreciate your consideration, are open to suggestions, encourage your feedback and questions, and we would greatly appreciate your support.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP, SELECT ALTAMAHA LEARNING LAB GIFT FROM THE PULLDOWN MENU IN THE DONATE BOX ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THIS PAGE AND ENTER YOUR GIFT. MANY THANKS!

We believe that perhaps the best indicator of success can be found in the feedback from actual student participants. In South Carolina, they hear back a lot from their program participants. Here is just one letter from a Northwoods Middle School student:

Wow. Talk about amazed. It was a different type of zone than the one I’m used to. It’s like finding out the girl who made fun of you actually liked you. It’s like finding you’re gonna be SpiderMan in the next film. It made me nervous but was really awesome. I also think that many of the kids today don’t get that opportunity, and it’s sad but true….Many kids and adults don’t get to see nature at its best because they think it’s a waste of time and it’s not really important….As for me, I’ll do it over and over again. I enjoyed my time and I want more trips like it. I love it.

Thanks Mr. Driscoll.

Sincerely, Elijah Hallums

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