Helping Communities and Wildlife in Atlanta

On the day set aside to remember the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the National Wildlife Federation’s Southeast Office in Atlanta joined forces with the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance and the USDA Forest Service to host over 230 volunteers in a large outdoor service effort at the Outdoor Activity Center in Southwest Atlanta, a part of the Atlanta Children’s Forest Network.

Photo by Crystal Jennings

Photo by Crystal Jennings

Community volunteers including high school leaders in NWF’s Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® Program joined millions of Americans to honor the memory of Dr. King by contributing their time and talents to improve their communities.

Photo by Crystal Jennings

Photo by Crystal Jennings

At the Outdoor Activity Center, volunteers made a difference by helping to maintain, revive, and renew the site’s 26-acre urban forest through projects to identify and remove invasive plants, delineate new trails and mulch existing trails, build a boardwalk to cross wet areas in the forest, build bat boxes, and strategically place wood from downed trees throughout the forest to improve habitat for wildlife.

NWF’s Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® Program engages urban youth in investigating causes of environmental challenges, helps them connect to nature, fosters their leadership of youth-led community action projects, promotes civic engagement, and nurtures leadership skills for building personal environmental stewardship.

Each academic year participating youth engage in a wide range of service learning initiatives to help green and make the metro Atlanta area more friendly for wildlife including: urban forest conservation activities, habitat restoration, and clean-up of local waterways. Program participants attend high schools in the Atlanta Public Schools System as well as the Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb, and Fulton County School Districts.

The Outdoor Activity Center is an old growth beech tree forest that is home to a host of hummingbirds, pileated woodpeckers, barred owls, red-tailed hawks, bats, and other winged species as well as small mammals, amphibians such as frogs and salamanders, and a variety of native pollinators.

Barred owl. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Charlie Long

This green jewel, located in one of Atlanta’s most underserved yet promising communities is not only a NWF Earth Tomorrow® service site for youth environmental service learning initiatives, but is also the site for NWF’s Annual Atlanta Great American Campout.

For more information about the Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® Program or other community-based outreach and education programs in the Atlanta Metropolitan area, please contact Na’Taki Osborne Jelks at osborne@nwf.org.

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