G.A.T.E.
God's Acre that Educates

Wildlife Habitat and Outdoor Classrooms
Atascocita Presbyterian Church
Creative Learning Center
Preschool and Children's Day Out
Everything natural – every flower, tree and animal –
has important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen."
Edkhart Tolle
Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud-turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade in, water-lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hay fields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, shakes, huckleberries and hornets: and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best of his education.
Luther Burbank


BENEFITS OF OUTDOOR LEARNING

Children show improvement in self esteem, problem solving and motivation to learn.
Children engage in more creative forms of play and play in groups more cooperatively.
Significantly reduces symptoms of attention-deficit disorder.
Children develop knowledge and skills as they undertake exciting real-life projects.
Children who interact with nature have better cognitive and creative skills.

BACKGROUND

The Creative Learning Center of Atascociata Presbyterian church in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and APC is in the process of transforming the wooded area on the south side of the property into a natural habitat for wildlife and outdoor classrooms.

According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, "Many children no longer spend long, unstructured hours playing outdoors creating positive bonds with nature. Families and educators must now provide intentional experiences and create spaces that give children opportunity to better understand and appreciate the natural world."

With the development of GATE, the students of CLC, the church family and our community will have the opportunity to reconnect with nature, explore and learn about being good stewards of God's gifts.
 

PHASE I

The eradication of invasive Chinese tallow trees, developing trails, digging a pond and construction of a deck are complete. These were all requirements under the terms of the partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
 

PHASE II

The second phase of development is partially complete.

ENTRY – Visitors enter through the Adult GATE, students have their own special entrance. Crushed granite trails have been completed throughout the area.

GROSS MOTOR CLASSROOM – In this area, immediately behind the Cottage, children are free to play on a number of natural elements. Entry to this area, designed and constructed by CLC parents, is through a vine covered tunnel.

MUSIC AND ART – This area, in the process of development, has Musical Pots installed by CLC music teacher, April Busch. Other elements are to be added.

VEGETABLE GARDEN – The beds have been prepared and will provide our students the experience of planting, harvesting and eating what they've grown – weather permitting.

BUTTERFLY/HUMMING BIRD GARDEN – Located at the back of GATE, development is underway with clearing and initial plantings.

OUTDOOR CAMERA – APC member, Karen Menke contributed a motion sensitive camera that has captured some wonderful shots of visitors to GATE pond, some of which you will find in this brochure. Note others hanging above the water fountain.
 

PHASE III

Exterior lighting has been installed near the cottage.

The unusually wet weather over the last two years has slowed the development of GATE. The drainage problem will be addressed as work continues on planned projects that include but are not limited to:

Completion of the Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden including the entry and additional plantings.
Design and begin construction of the amphitheater.
 

RESOURCES

In addition to the grant from USF&W, the funding for GATE has come from annual CLC fundraisers. Proceeds from events were set aside for this project. It could not have been undertaken without the work of enthusiastic volunteers, CLC parents and board members, church members, APC facilities committee and especially David Gerald, who have all contributed countless hours of their time and talents to transforming the area. The CLC staff and Board of Directors are very grateful for all their assistance.

The area requires a great deal of maintenance and development.
Anyone interested in participating in this project is encouraged to contact Cathy Gerald.