Community Champions: New Ebenezer Retreat Program

Community Champions: New Ebenezer Retreat Program

EBENEZER, Ga. (WTOC) - Hands-on learning experiences are proven to be effective for school-aged kids.

For almost 20 years, the WTOC Community Champions at the New Ebenezer Retreat Alive Program have been helping students get in touch with science by getting out into the environment.

Learning is fun, and lasting, in the woods of Ebenezer.

“I wanted to bring history, heritage, character, education, and environmental science for school children,” said New Ebenezer Retreat Education Coordinator, Beth Epling.

Epling started the New Ebenezer Alive Program to utilize the grounds of New Ebenezer Retreat as a teaching tool to host thousands of students each year for lessons on a variety of subjects.

“They’re seeing beekeeping, they’re doing soil science, and then wildlife and paper making," said Clara Barnes, Director, New Ebenezer Retreat. "While the students have fun touring New Ebenezer’s 120 acres in various stations, they’re also learning at a field trip that has been incorporated into their school’s curriculum.

“To me, it’s all about getting students actively engaged in learning, and that’s what we have here today,” said Superintendent, Randy Shearouse, Effingham County School System. “You can really tell they’re loving it because they’re able to be in nature, get outside, get their hands dirty, and learn things that they would learn in the classroom, but when they get to touch it and feel it, it means a whole lot more to them.”

“It’s really fun because I never touched a bee, and I’ve never really seen bees before,” one student said.

That interactive learning opportunity offered by the WTOC Community Champions with the New Ebenezer Alive program creates long-term lessons.

“Actually touching the dirt, learning about bees, what the queen bee does, what the worker bee does. They’ll take that and they’ll remember that forever.”

“I think when you hear, see, do - you actually remember it.”

The New Ebenezer Retreat has hosted schools groups from all across Georgia as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida.

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