Wauhatchie Forest School, Tennessee’s first forest kindergarten program based in Chattanooga, Tenn., will expand its campus to include additional sites in 2019.

Beginning this fall, Wauhatchie School will continue to offer classes at its main campus at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Lookout Lake in Lookout Valley, and will expand to include sites at the Chattanooga Audubon Society and Ivy Academy in the Chattanooga area.

“It's been so much fun working with Wauhatchie School as they grow their presence across Chattanooga,” says Mark McKnight, President of Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center. “As we establish Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center as a hub for environmental education and conservation, we want to see these ideas spread. We want environmental education and access to the outdoors to be expected for all kids rather than some oddity. From our Forest Kindergarten workshop last year to hosting the students on a daily basis, the energy that Wauhatchie has brought to the property has been phenomenal.”

Forest Kindergarten is based on the German concept of waldkindergarten, meaning “forest nursery,” and it is gaining popularity in the United States. Typically serving children ages 3 to 6 years, Forest Kindergarten takes place entirely outdoors, rain or shine. Teachers supervise students in their explorations and play, but do not lead.

Wauhatchie School is a dream come true for the school’s founder, Jean Lomino, an educator of 40-plus years with a doctorate in leadership with an emphasis in environmental education. 

According to Lomino, “Research shows that long-term exposure to the outdoors-particularly in one place-is the most effective way to develop a strong connection to nature. Studies have also shown that this kind of experience for children provides many important physical, social, emotional and academic benefits as well.”

Since its beginnings in 2015, Wauhatchie School has become a leader in forest school education. Lomino has been consulting with teachers at Gilbert Elementary in Lafayette, Georgia, to start the first public school Forest Kindergarten program in the country. She has also worked with Red Bank Elementary School’s Forest Kindergarten and outdoor education programs.  Over the past four years, over 90 teachers have trained at Wauhatchie School, and most went on to establish new Forest Kindergarten programs throughout the southeast.

In 2017, Lomino spent two months working with Forest Kindergarten teachers and consulting in Guangzhou, China.  Last spring a group of Chinese teachers from Jinan, as well as a teacher from Cape Town, South Africa, came to Wauhatchie School for training.

Lomino has also collaborated on research with the vice-chair of the Korean Forest Kindergarten Association and university professor, Dr. Jiyoun Shin. They studied character strength development in Forest Kindergarten with four Forest Kindergarten programs in the Chattanooga area.  They are currently writing the results of their research which will be presented this summer and authoring a Forest Kindergarten guidebook.

Open House events for parents are being held at all four locations this winter. For more information, visit www.Wauhatchie.org.

Posted by Bess Turner  | Category: Forest School

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

December 12th, 2018

We here at Reflection Riding put a lot of value in giving. It’s important, whether you’re donating winter jackets to a coat drive or finding a new toy for your dog. But it’s not just an activity — it’s an attitude. It means spending time and resources on finding something perfect, just to make someone else happy. And as we are well aware, sometimes that can be incredibly hard! We’d like to help you out, so below are suggestions for everyone on your list this year. 

Give Fun

Portable Jawbone Speaker

Portable speakers are great for pretty much any situation, whether you’re camping or having a classy dinner party. Atmosphere is everything! JBL and iHome have great options, but you can find a decent-quality speaker at any price point. 

Silent Auction Gifts

We have tons of great gift ideas to bid for on our silent auction page! You can bid on unique experiences at Reflection Riding and local gifts from our community partners. Find everything from Milk & Honey gift cards to a "Beer With A Bobcat" tour, but hurry up - the auction ends on December 19!

Yoga Mat

Sometimes the world is stressful. Everyone knows someone who could use a little time to decompress, and getting on the mat could do the trick. Brands like Jade Yoga, Manduka, and Prana are companies that use sustainable materials and environmentally friendly processes when making their mats.

Reflection Riding Membership

Come hang out with us! We have plenty of hikes, canoes, animals, and running trails to keep your family and friends busy for the whole year. With a Reflection Riding membership, you aren't just passively buying an experience - you're also supporting environmental learning and enriching the Reflection Riding community by adding yourself or your loved ones to it!

Give useful

Recharger

Unfortunately, we all rely on our phones a lot these days. But they don’t have to distract you from experiencing real life! Music, directions, and camera abilities can all be a great part of exploring, and a recharger is a useful tool to have when you’re not by an outlet for a couple of days (or weeks, or months…).

Camp Chair

Great for camping, but also for music festivals, outdoor movie screenings, impromptu picnics, and a lot more. Our team enjoys a lightweight, easy-to-fold chair (like this one) for backpacking. For everyday use, try gifting something padded and comfortable instead. And of course, hammocks aren't technically chairs, but ENO's DoubleNest Hammock makes a great couple's gift.

Headlamp

Who doesn’t need a headlamp (or even a second headlamp)? They’re as good for hiking and camping as they are for outdoor laser tag. If you're buying a headlamp for someone else, you'll want to consider how they'll be using the gadget. Price point, weight, brightness, and beam length can vary wildly from model to model; lucky for you, Switchback Travel wrote a guide to some of their top choices.

Multitool

What can we say? The items on this list have many uses. None may come in handy quite as often as a multitool, and it’s something anyone can find useful. Our facilities director Tim says, "You can't go wrong with Gerber." For a deluxe experience, we also like the Leatherman Signal because it comes with so many tools, including a safety whistle and fire-starting rod!

Give learning

Oli Kai

James Howard and his family created this book after bringing our crow ambassador home to Reflection Riding. Oli Kai teaches children about purpose, patience, and adventure. All proceeds benefit Reflection Riding, and what could be more fun than reading this with your kids and then meeting the main character in person? While they last, we'll have a limited number available at the Welcome Center for $15 each.

Local Field Guide

If you have a grandfather with a passion for ornithology, or an aunt who can’t get enough of wildflowers, look no further than a local field guide. Find an easily portable one and they can take their knowledge to the next level and learn more about their surroundings wherever they go. 

Five Star Trails: Chattanooga

According to one staff member’s mother, Five Star Trails is the best trail book out there for Chattanooga. Hikes are broken down by difficulty and terrain, but also by views. Whether you want a brief but uphill hike to a spectacular waterfall or a nice long one that reveals one of the best bird’s-eye views of the city, this book has you covered.

Experiences

Learning doesn’t just mean books! Giving someone an experience they’ve been wanting to try could be the most exciting "thing" they unwrap this year. Some of our favorite local ideas include classes at The Chattery, renting a SUP or kayak, or arranging a behind-the-scenes tour with us. To make the gifted experience even more memorable, plan to tag along and enjoy the day together!

give back

Red Wolf Foundation

Red wolf policies have made some strides this year, but red wolves are still critically endangered and need our support. Give to our red wolf program at Reflection Riding, or click here to adopt a red wolf pack at the Endangered Wolf Center. If you've got family or friends who also care about the cause, consider donating in their honor - then let them know how they inspired you to give!

Native Plants

Add beauty to someone’s life while benefiting our local ecosystem and pollinators! This list includes plants that are great for anyone living in Chattanooga - be it person, bee, or butterfly. 

Our Wish List

If you’re really in the mood for giving, why not check out the Reflection Riding wish list? You'll find everything from raptor carriers for our animal ambassadors to classroom equipment for the under-served students who come for field trips. We'll also be adding to this list throughout the year - be sure to check back anytime you're in the mood for giving back. Thank you for your support!

Posted by Bess Turner  | Category: Giving

Goodbye to the Box, our trusty Honda Element. From hauling plants to road trips with red wolves and owls, the Box has been our outreach vehicle for a number of years and served us well. Unfortunately, after a series of events it has been totaled and can no longer safely transport our wildlife, plants, and staff around Chattanooga. This is a huge problem for us, as many relied on it -- from getting animals to the vet to transporting educators and materials to schools. 

As for now, we have leased a stow-and-go van that has been a great replacement so far and has in many ways been even better for the tasks at hand than the Box ever was. But this is still just a short-term solution, and for the sake of continuing our mission we have determined that it needs to be made permanent.

So as Giving Tuesday is fast approaching, we have shifted our focus from general fundraising to one point: buying a van. For those of you unfamiliar with Giving Tuesday, it is on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, to kick off the charitable season and to celebrate philanthropy and giving back. We are lucky enough to live in a city so wonderful and philanthropic that it ranked in the top 15 last year for most generous cities in America! And because Chattanooga is so generous, it has its own version of Giving Tuesday: CHAgives. CHAgives is the local version of Giving Tuesday, focused on making the 27th as big and beneficial as it can possibly be. We are one of many organizations involved, and it all culminates in a pop-up at Miller Plaza (not to mention a breakfast we will be hosting beforehand). 

At Reflection Riding we believe it is important to give where you live. Therefore, we are setting our goal at $20,000 for Giving Tuesday (see our giving "thermometer" pictured on the left), in order to continue benefiting and participating in the Chattanooga community that we love so much. By helping us raise money for this van you are not only showing how much you care for Reflection Riding itself, but also for wildlife education, native plant restoration, animal conservation, and making sure a green space in the heart of Chattanooga can thrive. 

We offer our thanks for all the continued support, and would also like to extend an invitation to our #CHAgives breakfast before the festivities at Miller Plaza.

About the Author:

Bess Turner graduated from Tulane University in 2018 with a BA in English, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies, where she also worked for the Tulane Hullabaloo and the Undergraduate Student Government Sustainability Committee. When she's not writing for Reflection Riding you can find her on the mat, hiking, reading, and searching for the best veggie burger in Chattanooga. 

You can follow Bess on Instagram @bess_turner

Posted by Bess Turner  | Category: Giving

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