To help make field trips to Watson-Brown Foundation sites possible, the foundation has expanded its educational opportunities to include science and environmental education in addition to history.
The foundation also is footing the bill for the trips.
"Watson-Brown will pay for field-trip expenses. It's all free to schools, Scout troops and other educational groups," said Michelle Zupan, the curator at Hickory Hill and the Tom Watson Birthplace.
The foundation recently activated busing grants for trips to foundation sites for school districts in Columbia, McDuffie, Warren, Taliaferro, Glascock, Richmond, Lincoln and Wilkes counties. Special grants are available for two-day trips to the McDuffie Environmental Education Center and Hickory Hill.
According to foundation literature, teachers should apply through their school district for the cost of the bus, a driver and fuel. The foundation will reimburse the district for these costs at a predetermined rate. Columbia County educators should check with the central office for additional requirements.
Field trips and programs to all sites are scheduled through Hickory Hill. Programs offered include:
- Butterfly Watch, which allows pupils to research butterflies that come to the butterfly garden.
- Milkweed Checkup, where pupils observe and record damage caused by ozone on milkweed plants.
- TSI: Tree Scene Investigator, where pupils make a mold and a cast of tree bark, collect evidence and draw conclusions about a "crime" committed against a tree by a woodland animal.
- Biome Explorer, where groups of pupils explore the flora and fauna of the Piedmont biome.
- History Undercover, where pupils become junior archeologists and use math, compass and mapping skills to excavate in a dig box (school classroom) or at a historical site (Hickory Hill).
Programs are available for pupils in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Zupan said the Savannah River Ecology Lab will set up education stations in conjunction with the environmental curriculum for large groups of pupils.
"We have many other programs, too, but these represent our major areas of work," she said.
For more information on the Watson-Brown Foundation and programs, or to schedule a field trip, call Zupan at (706) 595-7777.
The Watson-Brown Foundation is a nonprofit corporation established to provide college opportunities for underprivileged kids, to improve education in the South and to preserve history. The foundation is in Thomson.
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