2004-11-26 / Education

Children and nature go hand in hand

By Tammie Maddock

Lori Nowell, education coordinator at Sandhill Adventures, shows a snake to Martha Davidson, Amelia Sniffin, Emma Johnson, 
and Lacey Ward
Lori Nowell, education coordinator at Sandhill Adventures, shows a snake to Martha Davidson, Amelia Sniffin, Emma Johnson, and Lacey Ward

  • Sandhill Adventures is a youth environmental stewardship program at Clemson University’s Sandhill Research and Education Center on Clemson Road in northeast Columbia. The program began with a mission focused on helping children better understand the environment.
  • Today, Sandhill Adventures uses the Children’s Garden, Conservation Station, youth camps, summer and winter workshops, and a variety of educational outreach programs to continue its positive impact on children, adults, and the environment.

    Volunteer Ellyn Nester shows members of the 4–K class at Spring Valley Presbyterian Preschool a marker 
on the nature trail.
Volunteer Ellyn Nester shows members of the 4–K class at Spring Valley Presbyterian Preschool a marker on the nature trail. Classes and individual visitors age four and up can choose from a variety of age–appropriate activities. They include tours guided by trained staff and master gardener volunteers, self–guided tours, and interactive nature walks that incorporate science standards established by the SC Board of Education. Each visit provides the opportunity to find a host of insects, flowers, seed pods, plants, and small animals – or evidence they have been there.

    Ben Alberson discovers a treasure at the Children’s Garden at Sandhills.
Ben Alberson discovers a treasure at the Children’s Garden at Sandhills. Discussion topics can be customized to fit specific needs and include the basic needs of all living things, life cycles, habitats, and instructions on how best to interact with the environment.

    The Children’s Garden at Sandhill is situated on two acres of land with vistas of forest and lake. Theme gardens in this area are Pooh’s Corner, Butterfly Garden, Three Bears Garden, Historic Crops Garden, Mr. McGregor’s Garden, Alphabet Garden, Bird Garden, Carolina Fence Garden, and Growing Healthy Garden. These gardens foster the notion that “children and gardens are natural duets.” Each of the gardens provides a place for imaginative play, investigation, and experimentation.

    The Conservation Station strives “to enable participants to gain a broad understanding of various concepts and issues focusing on: soils, geology, forestry, wildlife, air quality, and water.” According to Lori Nowell, education coordinator for the Education Center at Sandhill, “We are here to help people better understand and operate within our environment. One example of how we strive to help people make a connection is our Native Species Exhibit. This exhibit features various wildlife you might encounter in your own backyard and provides information that will help identify an animal, understand its habitat and predators, and contribution to the environment.”

    A very special attraction at the facility is a bird–banding demonstration. The center has worked in collaboration with the SC Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Forestry Division, to enable students to have a hands–on experience with wildlife. This unique demonstration teaches the various habits, adaptations, and field marks used for identifying birds. It also teaches about the use of bird banding as a survey tool for biologists.

    Sandhill Adventures is an ongoing collaborative effort between Clemson’s Research and Education Center and the community. The program welcomes visitors throughout the year and is happy to work with groups or individuals to help foster a better understanding of the environment. Anyone interested in the center or its programs may call 803-788-5700 for further information.

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