News release – for immediate release, Tuesday January 24, 2012

Contact:
Sonya Carpenter, 828.526.2221, Highlandsbiological@gmail.com

The Highlands Biological Foundation has received a $25,000 grant from the Eckerd Family Foundation to create “Backyard Naturalists,” an after-school program designed to inspire a lifelong appreciation of the natural world through science, art and technology.  The program is created in partnership with Meet Your Neighbours, an international photographic initiative designed to reveal the wildlife living amongst us in an extraordinary way, and will draw upon the educational resources of the Highlands Nature Center.   The Pilot program will begin on March 19, 2012 in Highlands, NC.

Backyard Naturalists participants will learn the essentials of how to be an amateur naturalist. The program will include eight weeks of lessons, one afternoon per week, structured to promote a better appreciation and understanding of the natural world by nurturing creativity and independent observation skills.  Study topics will include learning about plants and animals, community interactions between species, nature journaling, illustration and a nature photography workshop. Using this knowledge, the students will work together to develop a wiki, a website that is collaboratively developed by a community of users, which allows them to freely add content, edit and become active participants of the website rather than just visitors. After the initial pilot program is launched in Highlands, NC we will incorporate images produced by other Meet Your Neighbours photographers around the world into the wiki and encourage the development of similar Backyard Naturalists programs in their own communities. In this way technology becomes a tool and an asset used to put students in touch with the natural world around them in ways that only beautiful close-up photography can provide. It is our hope that Backyard Naturalists will have a lasting, positive impact on the lives of our participants and encourage them to get outside and explore the natural world that is as close as their own backyards.

For over 84 years the mission of the Highlands Biological Station and Foundation has been to foster education and research based on the rich natural heritage of the Highlands Plateau.  To become a part of the Highlands Biological Foundation and assist in this mission visit Highlandsbiological.org   To learn more about Backyard Naturalists or to sign up please visit www.backyardnaturalist.com or, or call (828) 526-2221.  To learn more about Meet Your Neighbours, visit www.meetyourneighbours.net

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Our Mission

The mission of Backyard Naturalists is to inspire a lifelong appreciation of the natural world in children through educational programming that integrates science, art, and technology. The program has been developed through a partnership between The Highlands Biological Foundation and Meet Your Neighbours, an international nature photography project designed to help people to learn more about the wildlife in their own community. Backyard Naturalists is made possible through the generous support of The Eckerd Family Foundation, which provides leadership and support for innovative educational, preventative, therapeutic and rehabilitative programs for children, youth and their families.