Grantee: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Inc. – Atlanta, GA
Project Title: Lake Lanier and West Point Lake Floating Classroom
Identifying the Obstacles to Environmental Education:
Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) created an on-the-water education program in 2000 to provide an opportunity for students to make the connection between the river that supplies their drinking water and their daily lives and to learn on the water with hands-on activities. This is especially critical when so many young people think the source of their drinking water is the faucet in their kitchen because they are not personally connected to the natural environment.
Grant Description: A CPF grant funded scholarships for 192 children to participate in this program. In partnership with Elachee Nature Science Center, an accredited school of nature study located in Gainesville, they teach students that they can make a difference in preserving the Chattahoochee and its tributaries and why it’s important for their communities. Their immediate goal is to help them teach their families to use water more efficiently and protect neighborhood streams from pollution. On board the Chota Princess II, their 40-foot catamaran, students test for dissolved oxygen, turbidity, temperature, and pH as indicators of Lake Lanier’s health. Through these experiments, watershed mapping, and other activities, students learn how the Chattahoochee and its lakes function as a natural, living system that sustains millions of people and wildlife.
Teachers from all across north Georgia and metro Atlanta return year after year to introduce their classes to the award winning LLALC program. Letters from teachers and students have underscored the importance of the floating classroom to their understanding of science, math, geography and ecology.
Program Impact: To date, they have brought more than 45,000 students and teachers on board the floating classroom (which costs CRK $70,000 yearly to operate) for an unforgettable learning experience. In 2008, they expanded the program to include inner-city and disadvantaged youth with scholarships, growing this program component to over 1,100 scholarship participants in 2015.
The success of this program led to the launch of Georgia’s second floating classroom on West Point Lake. The West Point Lake Floating Classroom (WPLFC) mirrors the one on Lake Lanier and is bringing this once-in-a-lifetime educational experience free of charge to students in the middle Chattahoochee region. To-date, we have taken 1,500 students and community members out to participate.