Outdoor Leadership Program Receives $25,000 Grant for Inner-City Work

For the last two years, graduate assistants from the Outdoor Leadership program have introduced inner-city youth to the great outdoors through their environmental education classes. Thanks to a $25,000 grant from Versacare, these children will experience the joy of nature for another two years. 

Since receiving a similar grant in 2012, eight graduate assistants have traveled to Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy once a month to teach the third and fifth grade students about trees, the water cycle, and how to take care of the environment.

“We provide a certain amount of consistency in their lives, which they don’t get a lot,” said Emily Durichek, a participating graduate assistant who is studying outdoor teaching education. 

The grant will also allow graduate assistants to conduct a three-day, two-night “outdoor school” for the fifth graders, providing them with a chance for hands-on activities surrounded by nature. 

“Kids need to be outside,” Durichek said. “It’s important to break the cycle these kids are in and let them see something else that’s available to them. A different way to de-stress. Another place to hang out.”

The funds from the grant also give Southern the opportunity to partner with Lookout Mountain Conservancy (LMC), a group dedicated to protecting the mountain’s scenic, historic, and ecological resources. LMC hires interns from Howard School of Academics and Technology, and the graduate assistants hope to connect Calvin Donaldson students with Howard students who are doing well to create a mentorship program.

Myron Madden Story by Myron Madden Published: Last Edited:

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