Georgia Wild E-Newsletter
From bugs to beavers, McDuffie puts unique spin on learning
Located in Dearing near Augusta, McDuffie Environmental Education Center provides fun learning and fishing in east Georgia.
The educational center is a collaborative effort between the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the McDuffie County Board of Education, along with Fort Discovery National Science Center in Augusta, the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the CSRA Regional Education Services Agency.
The center's staff of three certified teachers serves approximately 5,000 visitors a year. While the center is open to all, reservations are required and preference is given to groups of 20 or more.
McDuffies staff works to help K- through 8th-grade teachers reach and exceed Georgia Performance Standards, or GPS, by using the outdoors and the environment. Unique lessons offer students outdoor activities that stimulate their minds and help develop an appreciation for the area's diverse ecology.
"Our primary goal is to help educators meet the GPS and (No Child Left Behind) standards while offering unique outdoor experiences that students will take back with them," staff member Dot Kay said.
McDuffie has a discovery room, one indoor classroom, six outdoor classrooms and a computer lab where students learn hands-on about subjects as diverse as beaver dams and butterflies as well as more general Earth science topics. Teachers can design activities based on where their students are in their curriculum.
"One fun activity that is popular with first-grade students focuses on camouflage and helps develop observation skills," Kay said. "Staff members scatter more than 100 plastic bugs and critters of various colors and sizes along one of the trails.
"The kids get a kick out of who can find the most and have a great time doing it while learning about animal habitats and animal survival strategies."
In addition to outdoor classroom activities, McDuffie Environmental Education Center has three interpretive trails and a butterfly garden. Older kids can participate in special fishing events held at McDuffie Public Fishing Area's eight public ponds. Tours of the McDuffie warm-water fish hatchery are also offered.
McDuffie Environmental Education Center is open year-round by reservation only. The busy seasons are in the fall from September to November and in spring from March to May. Reservations need to be made early for these times of the year.
For more, go to www.georgiawildlife.com or www.themeec.org, or contact the Environmental Education Center at 4695 Fish Hatchery Road, Dearing, Ga. 30824. McDuffie schools can call (706) 986-4997. For private or home-schooled students, or those outside McDuffie County, call (706) 339-5457.
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