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discovery days

Nature Nurtured at Discovery Day River Ecology Program

By: Acker Smith, Georgia-Pacific senior manager of environmental compliance at Leaf River Cellulose

Updated Wed July 23, 2014

discovery days

We believe protecting the environment starts with everyday choices, and we want to inspire that thinking at a young age, so at several of our facility sites we host learning activities that give children hands-on experience with nature.

One example is Discovery Day, a longstanding program held each spring in New Augusta, Mississippi near our Leaf River facility. It begins by taking students on a field trip to the Leaf River where they engage in a number of hands-on projects, including capturing and exploring organisms like plankton using a high-powered microscope; hunting for and classifying native insects; learning about pH and water testing; and learning about native fish, mussels and clams.

The program was the brainchild of employees in our environmental department and developed in conjunction with a professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and local teachers. For the past 20 years, our employees have taught local elementary school students about river ecology through Discovery Day.

Year after year, it’s great to see how the kids are always eager to learn and experience something totally new. It’s one thing to learn about these things in the classroom, but another to touch and feel it – most students have never done something like this before. The students are excited about learning and appreciate the opportunity.

Discovery Day is a tangible way to pass along our commitment to environmental stewardship through education and how it’s important to current and future generations.

We believe we have a responsibility to create value in the community and region in which we operate, so in addition to providing a huge economic impact, an outreach program like Discovery Day provides an avenue for direct involvement in the lives of some of our youngest community members.

For a look at Discovery Day in action, check out the following video captured by the Mother Nature Network:

Did you know Georgia-Pacific also offers free online environmental educational resources for elementary students? Visit Education In Nature to download videos, lesson plans and activities.


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