HCWA Hosts 3,000+ Cubihatcha Kids for Annual Field Trips
Last month marked the return of one of the most popular and impactful outdoor education programs in the state, when the Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) was back to hosting 3,216 third-grade students and 126 teachers from Henry County Schools for annual field trips at its Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center.
Over the course of a two-week period in September, the Cubihatcha Center staff hosted these “Cubihatcha Kids” for classes taught outdoors by volunteer faculty from the HCWA, Henry County Board of Education, Henry County and Locust Grove Stormwater Management, Henry County 4-H and Master Gardeners, Central Georgia EMC, Snapping Shoals EMC, Helping in His Name Ministries (The Food Pantry), the Georgia Forestry Commission, UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the Georgia Farm Bureau, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Henry County Community Garden.
This year marked the first time the “Cubihatcha Kids” were able to enjoy outdoor education at the Center since 2019, since the previous two years of field trips had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
Kaneice Bembry, K-12 Science Coordinator for Henry County Schools, expressed her appreciation to the HCWA, as well as the event’s partners and sponsoring organizations, for providing such a good experience for all involved.
“Students are able to apply what they learn in the classroom setting to what they experience here at the Cubihatcha Center, and they get an opportunity to engage with various staff and sponsors to learn about what they do and see how that relates to career opportunities,” says Bembry, who was on site during the field trips to provide oversight regarding the approved curricula being taught to the “Cubihatcha Kids” during their respective field trips.
The “Cubihatcha Kids” field trips are organized by the Henry County Outdoor Education Partnership, a non-profit that includes the HCWA, the Henry County Board of Education, and the Henry County Board of Commissioners/Stormwater Management, with other individuals, as well as public and private organizations, providing support.
“We enjoy teaching the students about trees, and we show them how to determine age by counting rings,” adds Shawn Conner, Ranger with the Georgia Forestry Commission. “We also discuss what starts forest fires, how to prevent them, and what it takes to put them out.”
This year marked the 17th annual “Cubihatcha Kids” field trips, which are intended to provide experiential or “hands-on” learning for students through outdoor classes and activities that correlate with the third-grade Georgia Standards for Excellence and Applied STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Curricula. In addition, the field trips encourage student appreciation of natural resources, the role the HCWA provides in the community, as well as career opportunities available to students in these applied sciences.
“It was great to be able to resume the visits from the Cubihatcha Kids again this year, and our staff, along with numerous partners, worked extremely hard preparing for the field trips and making sure they were safe and successful,” says Ken Presley, HCWA Reservoir Manager. “The Cubihatcha Kids program provides a positive, unique, and very important outdoor educational experience for teachers and students. Many of our students get their first experience in the outdoors because of this program.”
To date, HCWA officials estimate that approximately 50,000 “Cubihatcha Kids” have experienced the benefits of these field trips to the Cubihatcha Center since this event started in 2003.
As a result of the unique outdoor education program and the partnerships it has formed, the Georgia Association of Water Professionals recognized the HCWA with its Public Education Program of the Year Award on three occasions, as well as Public Education Program of Excellence Awards. In addition, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District has awarded the HCWA and its Cubihatcha Center with the STREAM Award for Education and Outreach Program Excellence.
“The annual third-grade field trips at our Cubihatcha Center were once again a tremendous success, evident in the responses we received from the students and their teachers,” says Tony Carnell, HCWA General Manager. “This program has received awards and recognition from our industry and from educators, who have noted the tremendous impact it has on learning and developing awareness among our children of the importance of protecting natural resources. I’m very proud of our employees and partners for their hard work and dedication to put on such a great event.”
Captions for photos (top to bottom)
HCWA Naturalist Jeff Scott teaches Henry County third graders about local wildlife habitat during the 17th annual “Cubihatcha Kids” field trips.
HCWA employees David Farmer and Shelley Boggess teach a class titled, “Incredible Journey,” which covers the cycle of water, to third grade students visiting the Cubihatcha Center during their annual field trips.
Queen Marie Officer (foreground) and Carter White, third grade students at Unity Grove Elementary School, enjoy learning about crayfish during their recent field trip to the HCWA Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center.
Mrs. LaQuinette Bourgeois’ third grade students from Unity Grove Elementary School enjoy the FOG Relay during their field trip to the HCWA Cubihatcha Center. This activity teaches kids about the proper disposal of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) at home.
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