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Contact: Visitor Contact Station, 678-538-1200
WASHINGTON, DC (14, April 2010) – Area youth from Sope Creek Elementary School will be planting a garden of native plant species in Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area on Saturday, April 17 as part of the National Park Foundation’s First Bloom program. First Bloom gives students firsthand experience in national parks, and teaches them about native and invasive plant species. The event will kick-off at 9 a.m. at the Columns Drive area of Cochran Shoals.
“The young people that have been part of First Bloom at our park have learned and grown tremendously,” said Park Ranger Dave Thomas. “Our park has really valued their enthusiasm and their hard work as we have designed and planned this native garden, which will restore this area of land to its natural beauty.”
“One of the most important things anyone can do for the environment is to connect young people to parks,” said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Kids, who are forging connections with the national parks today, are likely to have lasting relationships with the parks and the outdoors for their whole lives.”
First Bloom connects kids between 4th and 6th grades to nature and national parks. The nationwide program is currently taking place in 26 national parks in partnership with 31 youth groups across the country. First Bloom kids meet with park rangers monthly over one program year, approximately September 2009 to June 2010. They engage in outdoor, hands-on activities and learn to love the outdoors and their national parks. Toward the end of the program, youth involved plant a native landscape at a national park. That landscape is a lasting connection for those youth, a transferable experience, and a feature that all future visitors to the park will enjoy. To learn more about the First Bloom program, visit www.first-bloom.org.
The Students of Sope Creek Elementary designed the garden with plants specifically native to Georgia, such as Sundrops, Georgia Aster, and Sparkleberry. Stepping stones through the middle of the garden lead to a park bench whereby park visitors can sit and enjoy the beauty of the natural garden. The students creatively designed the garden by placing the “sundrop flowers in the shape of a smiley face to make people happy,” said Mrs. Vaniman, the student’s teacher.First Bloom programs around the nation were generously supported by the UPS Foundation, ARAMARK Parks and Recreation, and gifts from private donors and foundations.