Forest Park has become one of the greatest destinations for experiential and environmental education in the region. Here are just a few highlights from 2015:
- Nature Works: For this program, made possible by lead donor The Boeing Company, we collaborated with 16 St. Louis area schools and 15 conservation organizations in 2015 to provide 492 youth with hands-on conservation education and mentoring in the classroom and in Forest Park. Students were engaged in several conservation and environmental stewardship opportunities, including a Gateway STEM High School volunteer internship, volunteer service project days and an eight-week summer internship. In the words of one Nature Works crew member: "In my time working at Forest Park, I’ve come to realize that it’s not just some city park. It’s a community, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Voyage of Learning Teachers’ Academy: For eight days this past summer, Forest Park was transformed once again into an experiential learning lab — a true Voyage of Learning — for 28 St. Louis area schoolteachers. Through hands-on activities and instruction, our graduates came away with experiential outdoor learning techniques, lesson ideas and educational resources they can use with their students. Among this year’s 28 Voyager graduates, 11 came from St. Louis Public Schools and charter schools in St. Louis City. By connecting more teachers from under-resourced urban communities to the many natural and cultural wonders found in Forest Park, we are engaging more youth in meaningful, outdoor experiential learning opportunities that foster their understanding of and appreciation for nature.
Forest Park Summer Youth Experience: This annual program provides an in-depth, experiential day camp experience in Forest Park each year for approximately 80 primarily African-American, low-income children from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis. The program has shown great success in teaching these children facts and skills about forests, fish, wildlife and nature in general while building confidence in the outdoors and cooperation skills, and providing a safe, productive experience during summer months.
Tours & Classes: Forest Park Forever horticulturists, gardeners and volunteers shared their knowledge and passion with the community during 2015 through their walking tours and specialty classes. Twenty-tree Heart of the Park Walking Tours took place during the spring and fall with tours focusing on everything from Tree Identification to the Wonders of Water; seven Wildflower Walks took visitors into several of the Nature Reserve areas of the park; nine Bird Walks introduced beginner birders and veterans alike to the birding hotspots of Forest Park; and 11 specialty classes covered topics such as Wild Edibles, Ethnobotany, Pruning and Woodland Gardens.