Air Family Launches Series of Events to include JSU field schools
The EcoScape Celebration event at Birmingham Southern
College launched the Fresh Air Family, a model program, the first of its kind
in the nation, that brings together everyone from government agencies to
volunteers to offer good family fun, an exploration of Alabama‘s natural beauty
and (don‘t tell the kids!) outdoor education. The program is kid-driven,
with 70 percent of the board composed of children and youth.
“I think this is really cool,” said Mallie Lang, a nine year
old from Hoover.
“While my friends may sit in front of a TV, we are outside hiking or going to
meetings and planning outdoor adventures for the fall. This is pure fun!”
These youthful board members join dozens of adult groups
around the state to hike, bike, canoe, fish, and look for birds, frogs,
wildflowers, fossils and the occasional stink bug. Participating groups
include: Alabama Bureau of Tourism Year of the Great Outdoors, Jacksonville
State University’s Little River Canyon Field School, Friends of Oak Mountain
State Park, Ruffner Mountain, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Dauphin Island Sea
Lab, Anniston Museum of Natural History, Alabama Environmental Council, Alabama
Hiking Trails Association, Birmingham Wildflower Society, Miles College and
many, many others. Governor Bob Riley also named 2006 The Year of the Fresh Air
is a leader in biodiversity and we should be the ones leading the way in
outdoor education,” said Fresh Air Family founder Verna Gates.
The group is forming a state-wide organization to join in on
outdoor activities. Each child or youth can receive Fresh Air Family Passports
which can be filled with stickers awarded for participating in an outdoor event
or by exploring one of the botanical gardens or museums. At the end of the
year, they can receive state-wide awards.
Renee Morrison of JSU Field Schools says, “This initiative
fulfills our mission…to celebrate outdoor education and adventure from the
deepest canyon to the highest mountain in
Activities to follow include:
Museum: Skin, Scales
and Scholars, a study of toads and snakes.
19, a visit to the new Open-Air Butterfly House, the largest in the
nation, at the Huntsville
16, Bear Hunt: The Extreme Lifestyle of Tardigrades, called water bears.
These microscopic creatures, as well as water quality will be studied
through JSU Field Schools at DeSoto
- October: Coastal Oceanography and Hurricanes at the Dauphin
“Since joining the Fresh Air Family board, my family has
spent more time together and we have seen some pretty cool things like owls,
eagles and even vultures,” said Lang. “Come bring your family and see how
beautiful nature is. It’s awesome.”
The Fresh Air Family is a subsidiary of the Birmingham
Wildflower Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit. It is sponsored by the Alabama Power
Foundation and the Biotechnology Association of Alabama.
For more information on Fresh Air Families and a list of
outdoor events, visit www.freshairfamily.org.
Events are either free or at a minimal cost.