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26 July 2006

JSU's Field Schools Participate
in Alabama's Fresh Air Family Program

 Fresh 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 Family.


Alabama 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 Alabama.”


Activities to follow include:

  • July 22, Anniston Natural History Museum: Skin, Scales and Scholars, a study of toads and snakes. 
  • August 19, a visit to the new Open-Air Butterfly House, the largest in the nation, at the Huntsville Botanical Garden
  • September 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 State Park.
  • October: Coastal Oceanography and Hurricanes at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

“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 Events are either free or at a minimal cost.



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