Family Fun at the Farm

Allowing children to interact with a farm setting can provide many positive aspects to their education, emotional and overall development. Here are just a few of the many benefits of immersing children in outdoor education, including a farm setting.

  1. It encourages educational hands-on learning.

Many farm activities stimulate sensory learning for children. Countless studies have also proven that active learning is much more beneficial and successful than traditional “classroom-style” learning. Hands-on learning also increases problem solving abilities and boosts motor skills.


2. It promotes healthy living and teaches children about where their food comes from.

Exploring farms can encourage children to explore healthier food options, such as fresh produce. It is also important for children to understand and appreciate where their other food, such as meat and dairy comes from. Outdoor learning and physical activity also keeps kids active and healthy.


3. It increases appreciation of nature.

Allowing children to learn in an outdoor setting, and explore more about farms and food can increase children’s appreciation of nature and animals. Being outside will help children learn more about the outside world and why we should protect it!


4. It introduces children to scientific concepts.

Farms can create many different ways to introduce children to many scientific concepts. Some of these topics may include agriculture, botany, horticulture, and animal sciences.


5. It reduces stress.

Being in an a calmer and simpler outdoor environment with lots of plants and natural areas has proved to reduce stress levels for stressed children and adults.


A great way to immerse your family in farm culture is to come out to the Chattahoochee Nature Center’s Back to Your Roots Farm Fair on Sunday, April 2 from 12-4 pm. Families will be able to interact with live farm animals, explore the CNC Unity Garden, enjoy live music from Bach to Rock, a picnic and vendor booths, and so much more! Learn more here.

Follow the Music

Kim Davenport, CNC Visitor Services Associate

Our view of the natural world changes based on what we see and hear within an environment. The view and sound below the water provides a unique experience. Factors such as water density, temperature, and pressure help sound waves travel much farther in water than they do in air. Animals, such as whales, take advantage of this by broadcasting their calls over a far greater area than they could through the air. Animals, such as whales, take advantage of this by broadcasting their calls over a far greater area than they could through the air. For instance, the low frequencies emitted by blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) can travel thousands of miles.


Whales are able to determine where others of their kind are in order to coordinate seasonal migrations or to find a potential mate, even if they are many miles apart from one another. Sounds help dolphins navigate and find food in murky waters. Dolphins use a technique called “echolocation.” A dolphin emits high frequency clicks from its nasal passages which then are amplified through a fatty mass on the forehead called the “melon.” Sound waves bounce off an object, such as a fish, and are picked up in fatty tissue in the dolphin’s lower jaw. The dolphin finds the object by determining how fast the clicks return. Humans have studied echolocation and have developed Sound Navigation and Ranging (SONAR) to help with mapping depth and finding objects in bodies of water. Fishing boats also use SONAR in order to find schools of tuna or other fish. SONAR, however, has been known to confuse dolphins as they can respond to the artificial signals and risk collisions with boats and submarines or become entangled in the nets used by fisherman. The U.S. Navy has agreed to reduce the use of SONAR during training exercises.

This Earth Day Visit CNC

This Earth Day, be sure to join the Chattahoochee Nature Center for a day of fun and educational activities that are focused on nature and protecting the environment.

Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970 and is widely acknowledged as a day dedicated to appreciating and celebrating the planet. The best way to do that is to get outside in nature and learn more about how we can take a stand and protect our environment.

The Chattahoochee Nature Center will host a wide variety of Earth Day events on Saturday, April 22:

2012_05_05_rizzio-youth-clinic_125Sam Rizzio Youth Fly Fishing & Conservation Clinic
8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Chattahoochee Nature Center, The Fish Hawk, the Atlanta Fly Fishing School, Bass Pro Shops, the Georgia Women Fly Fishers, Alpharetta Outfitters, and ZWJ Investment Counsel are pleased to announce a comprehensive one day fly fishing clinic for young men and women, ages 10 to 15. The clinic is designed for the beginning fly fisher and will provide basic instruction in all phases of fly-fishing including fly-casting, knot tying, insect
identification, and conservation. Certified instructors and mentors will work with students to provide individual instruction and answer questions about fly-fishing. Upon completion, each student will be awarded a certificate and receive a box of flies. In addition, there will be a variety of fly-fishing equipment worth hundreds of dollars for give-aways and drawings.


kruger-national-parkWildlife in South Africa’s Kruger National Park
11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Discover the rich ecosystem of Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Private Game Reserves. Safari guide and ornithologist Matt Brennan will share photos and stories about the wildlife in Kruger including up close encounters with The Big 5 and the challenges ahead for rhinoceros and cheetahs.

Included with General Admission; free for CNC Members.



Earth Day Canoeing: Shooting Stars on the River
5 – 9 p.m.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than getting outside? Enjoy a 2 and a half hour paddle down the Chattahoochee River with our experienced and knowledgeable canoe guides. After the paddle, join us around the campfire as we watch for “shooting stars” during the peak of the Lyrid Meteor Shower. Feel free to bring a picnic dinner.

Ages 21+, $40 for general public and $30 for CNC members. Advanced registration required.

davidhaskell-1024x682The Songs of Trees – David Haskell Book Reading and Signing
6 p.m.
Join the Atlanta Audubon Society (AAS) and CNC in an exclusive event of Atlanta Audubon’s Atlanta Bird Fest as author David Haskell reads excerpts from his new book The Songs of Trees. This new book shares Haskell’s experience as he repeatedly visits a dozen trees around the world, exploring the trees’ connections with webs of fungi, bacterial communities, cooperative and destructive animals, and other plants. Copies of The Songs of Trees will be available for purchase.

$15 for the general Public and $10 for CNC or AAS members. Reserve your tickets online at or by phone at 678-973-2437 (M-F, 10am-3pm).



Night Hike and Campfire
7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Celebrate Earth Day at night. Join our expert naturalists for a night hike through our forest. We’ll explore the sounds and sights of the forest floor. We may even hear some frogs or toads. On the hike we will also keep our eyes and ears open for the calls of owls and maybe even spot some bats swooping down to feed on insects. Your evening with us also includes an animal encounter and a relaxing campfire.

All Ages; $12 for general public and $10 for CNC members (Save $2 if you register by April 20).

Learn more about these events online at We hope to see you at CNC this Earth Day.

Gardening with Pets

Spring is just around the corner and everyone loves growing new flowers and plants in their backyard. Many of those new blooms are very appealing not only to us but to our pets.

What would-be gardeners may not know is that many plants are also extremely toxic to our four-legged friends, and have been known to cause irritation, pain, illness and even death. It is very important that gardeners with pets are aware of these dangerous plants to keep our animals and environment healthy. Here is a list of the ten most common garden plants that are toxic to our dogs and cats. Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list, and there are many other plants that can harm your pets.

If you are unsure about whether a plant is dangerous for your pet, just ask one of the Horticulture staff at the Chattahoochee Nature Center – they know lots about all kinds of plants and uses. One way to speak with them is at the Spring Native Plant Sale, March 31, April 1, 2, 7, 8.

  1. Azaleas and Rhododendrons


Azaleas are actually a type of Rhododendron, and there are over 1,000 species. These plants contain grayanotoxins which disrupt sodium channels affecting the skeletal and cardiac muscle. All parts of these flowers, and all types of azaleas are dangerous to both dogs and cats. If ingested, side effects include gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and central nervous system disruptions. The toxicity of rhododendrons depends on its hybridization with other species, including azaleas. All parts of the plant are hazardous, and ingesting only .2% of an animal’s body weight can result in poisoning.

2. Tulips and Tulip Bulbs


Tulips are toxic to both dogs and cats. Tulips contain allergenic lactones or similar alkaloids. The toxic chemicals in tulips are most concentrated in bulbs, and are very dangerous to pets when consumed in large amounts. Signs include tissue irritation to the mouth and esophagus, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, changes in respiration and difficulty breathing.

3. Daffodils


Daffodils contain contain lycorine, an alkaloid with properties that cause severe tissue irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and even possible cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression. These chemicals are found in the outer bulb and are very toxic to both dogs and cats.

4. Mums


Mums are toxic to dogs and cats, but the side effects are relatively mild and include vomiting and a loss of appetite.

5. Holly (Berries and Leaves)


Varieties of holly contain saponins, and cause gastrointestinal problems for dogs and cats. Varieties of holly including English, Japanese, and Chinese Holly are toxic to dogs and cats, and can cause gastrointestinal problems for pets.

6. Nandina (AKA Sacred Bamboo or Heavenly Bamboo)


Not only are these popular landscape plants harmful to our pets, but they are also extremely poisonous to birds. The colorful berries contain hydrogen cyanide which is extremely toxic to all animals. Birds are attracted to the berries when food supply is low, and many studies have shown that consuming the berries cause the birds to have hemorrhaging in the heart, lungs, trachea, abdominal cavity and other organs.

7. Oleander Shrubs


Oleander is toxic to cats, dogs, horses, cows, and even birds. Oleander is typically grown in warm locations, and all parts of the plant are toxic. Oleander contains naturally-occurring poisons that affect the heart.

8. Hydrangeas


Hydrangeas are dangerous to dogs, cats and horses. Hydrangeas contain Cyanogenic glycoside, which causes gastrointestinal disturbance.

9. Ivy

Ivy Leaves - climbing garedn wall UK

Certain types of ivy contain triterpenoid saponins and polyacetylene compounds which causes drooling, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. Some types of ivy that are poisonous to dogs and cats include Sweetheart ivy, Glacier ivy, Needlepoint ivy and Branching ivy.

10. Wisterias


Wisteria is dangerous to dogs and cats. Its toxic principles are Lectin and wisterin glycoside, which causes vomitting, diarrhea and depression.

While many of these plants and flowers are very appealing and would look great in your backyard this spring, it is important to remember to keep your pet’s health in mind when choosing what to plant.

If your pet has ingested a poisonous plant, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the ASPCA 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435. You can also learn more about toxic substances for your pets at Pet Poison Helpline.

Water Drop Dash Returns March 18


Resolve to save water in 2017! Learn about water conservation while also supporting a local nonprofit The Chattahoochee Nature Center on Saturday, March 18 at 8 a.m. for the 5th annual Water Drop Dash. This family-friendly event is a great way to not only work together to bring awareness to water conservation but also get some exercise on a spring day.

A young #WaterDropDash runner is unsure what to make of his new friend.

Did you know an estimated 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted each year from U.S. households? One household alone can waste 10,000 gallons of water yearly, that’s as much as most households consume in a two month period. Water is a precious resource we can’t live without! Be sure to put on your calendar the EPA’s Fix a Leak Week, March 20-26, 2017, but remember that you can race over to your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems, fix the leaks and save valuable water and money all year long.


As part of Fix a Leak Week, CNC is hosting the annual Water Drop Dash with the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.  This is the #1 EPA WaterSense event in the nation!

As well as a fun, fast and flat course, all participants and gusts of the race will learn valuable tips to conserve water in their everyday lives. Water conservation is an important topic to many Georgians and is currently a contested issue between Alabama and Florida (We are still in a multi-state ‘water war’ in court), in addition to the droughts currently impacting the state.wddfinishline

The post-race Water Festival is family-friendly and full of giveaways, games, face painting with FREE admission to the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Awards will be presented after the race at a post-race party, which includes healthy snacks from Whole Foods Market for participants.

Teams, businesses and families are invited to participate and receive a $3 discount with four members or more, using the code “TEAM2017.”  All registrants will receive a race number with chip time to help them qualify for the Peachtree Road Race. Runners will get complimentary photos of themselves, from True Speed Photo. Still want to participate but unable to run the race? Sign up as a ghost runner and help us educate on water conservation. Register online now to make a difference, you will receive a t-shirt to prove you got involved too.

The Facts on LeaksRunners can register in person, at local Big Peach Stores and up until 6 p.m. the night before the race at the Big Peach Store located at Johnson Ferry Road, where you can pick up your race packet and chip to arrive later on race day. Last minute registrations are available on site, but the price will be higher, and you’ll need to arrive by 7 a.m. Contact with questions.

Don’t forget to use the hashtags  #FixALeakWeek  #SaveWater#EPA  #DWM #WaterDropDash in your social media posts! Learn more about the water drop dash on YouTube.

This event is made possible by generous sponsors, such as Big Peach Running Co., Brown and Caldwell, Cox Automotive, Northside Hospital, Garney Construction, Toto USA, Aecom, Ewing, Jacobs, Whole Foods Market and Kind.

The Benefits of Doing Yoga Outdoors

And Why you Should Take Your Practice Outdoors

yoga-1812695_1280As the weather is about to start warming up with the arrival of spring, everyone will be ready to shed their winter clothes and get outdoors. Having the opportunity to exercise outdoors is one of the best things you can do for yourself. A favorite among many yogis is taking your practice outdoors. While yoga studios are often a relaxing, zen environment, nothing can beat fresh air. Are you ready to give outdoor yoga a try? Here are some of the ways that the outdoors benefits your practice:

1. Gives you a chance to reconnect with yourself

Do you ever feel like your senses are heightened while spending time outdoors? That’s because they probably are! Researchers at the University of Southern California have found that relaxing outdoor environments tend to make you feel better by releasing endorphins to the brain. Also having the added stimulation of terrain such as grass and sand only helps you feel more connected to your environment.

yoga4-208x3002. Added benefits to your meditation practice

Currently, there are so many ways to make meditation accessible whether you’re at work or about to go to bed. But if you are looking to take your meditation to the next level, you have to take it outdoors. Scientists have found that meditation helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body and being outdoors vs. in an urban setting helps to reduce these levels more. It also might help you stay focused if your mind tends to wander.

3. Gives you the chance to check out new places

For many of us, our house or apartment is located in urban settings and not always conveniently located near the beach, park, or nature center. Why not make a trip out of it? If you are looking into making it more of a getaway trip, there are many yoga retreats held locally or in popular destinations. In your community there are sure to be events by local yoga studios, such Roswell Yoga Life. However, if you are looking for something more low-key and close-by some of the best trips can be a day trip with family and friends, or even as alone time. 


What has been your experience with outdoor yoga? Do you feel like it adds to your practice? Let us know below!

Exercise: the natural way to a healthy, fun life!


Not only is exercising a great stress reliever, but it also provides numerous health benefits, both physically and mentally. The best part is that everyone benefits from doing physical activity, no matter their age, gender, or fitness level. There are many different ways to stay fit including running, biking, hiking, weight lifting, swimming or even joining a sports team or club. Here is a list of five major health advantages of staying active.


  1. Exercise keeps you in shape.

Regular exercise helps you lose weight and stay fit. Staying active also helps you shed extra weight in fat, and your metabolism will increase which will in turn make you less hungry and make it easier for you to stay fit.


  1. Exercise relieves stress and improves your mental health.

Study after study has proved that going out into nature eases stress and improves your mood. Spending time outdoors and staying active stimulates your brain and releases chemicals that make you feel happier and relaxed. Not to mention, being outside in nature’s beauty gives you a mental boost! Learning can be healthy AND fun!



  1. Exercise combats disease and reduces risk of cancer.

 Regular exercise lowers blood pressure, which directly decreases your chances of having cardiovascular disease. Exercise also helps prevent many health concerns including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and even arthritis. Physical activity also strengthens your joints and bones. The Journal of Nutrition recently published over 170 different studies that proved that regular physical activity even lowers risk of certain cancers.


  1. Exercise boosts your energy levels and helps you sleep.

 Regular physical activity helps increase your muscle strength and endurance. With better fitness and healthier heart and lung systems, you are able to tackle day-to-day activities with more energy. Additionally, regular exercise improves your sleep. You will fall asleep faster, and sleep sounder.


  1. Exercise improves your social life.

Exercise can be fun, enjoyable, and social! You are bound to connect with friends and family while you are getting out and staying active in many various ways!


Exercise has endless health benefits, and it is important to understand your fitness plan and target. Have a plan in place on how you intend to stay active to reach your end goal!

One way to get that exercise in is to come out on Saturday, March 18 to the Fifth Annual Water Drop Dash 5k Race along the beautiful banks of the Chattahoochee to support the North Metropolitan Water Planning District.

Be social, get outside and get active!


Flying into CNC for Family Fun, Jan. 15 with EcoTinker!

eco-tinker-snowflakeFamily Fun Day:

Flying into the Future

January 15, 12-4 pm



Enjoy fun and interactive activities that will help you learn more about wildlife and how they are connected to the world around us. Learn about catapults, flights and nature’s math at the Flying into the Future Family Fun Day at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Jan. 15.

Activities include:

New to CNC and the Family Fun Day are the Eco-Tinker interactive exhibits! These activities are up until the end of February:

Experience Live, Flying Birds: Have you ever wondered how birds stay warm during the cold winter months? In this activity, you will have the opportunity to study feathers under a microscope, and discover the ways these feathers keep birds so warm.

Explore The Mechanics of Flight: Catapults are not only fun and engaging but also can be found all around us. Can you think of ways catapults can be found out in nature?

Shelter Engineers: Do you think you can build a shelter using spider webs, sticks, and leaves? Learn how animals use these kind of objects to protect themselves from the natural world.

Tinkering Forest: Do you have an artsy side? Using recycled materials, you will be designing trees for our tinkering forest. Learn more how recycled materials can be reused for different purposes.

Snowflake Math: Have you ever noticed how each snowflake is unique from another? Build your own snowflake and learn the ways that snowflakes are different from one another.


This event is free to all CNC Members and included with General Admission!

Family Fun Days at CNC are generously presented by Northside Hospital.


Winter: An Enchanting Time of Year


Nature enchants and inspires us, especially in winter, when new views of the celestial sky are revealed. Trees reach out bare limbs and tempt us to climb up. Cold weather is the perfect time to engage in learning more about the various life sciences, such as biology, botany, environmental science, astronomy and zoology, while also experiencing healthy fitness activities like hiking too. Will it snow this winter? The weatherman is always giving us a daily update on that topic.

Did you know all snowflakes follow a 6-sided pattern when they are formed? They do! This makes them valuable to learn from weather to geometry, to simple chemistry, physics and even math!

Have you ever really observed a snowflake up close? Did you know this about snowflakes – they are rarely alike, but they always have six sides. In fact, snowflakes are a great way to demonstrate geometry, or describe fractals. Snowflakes are frozen water molecules that can be beautiful, fun to make and observe and they can help us teach everything from weather to geometry, to simple chemistry, physics and even math! That is a great way to integrate a lesson, such as “STEM” learning requires.

You may have heard of the acronym “STEM” In recent years, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) became an exciting trend in education. Recently, an offshoot of this, STEAM, has emerged, adding Art into the mix. Art is especially important for developing the critical thinking and creativity skills needed to excel in the sciences.


The objectives of the STEAM movement are to:

  • Transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM
  • Encourage integration of Art + Design in K–12 education
  • Influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation

At the Chattahoochee Nature Center we have worked to bring STEM into focus, using nature and outdoor learning as a foundation for K-12 students. We have been part of this national education trend for several years, in partnership with metro school systems.

With our Development Department working closely with our Education Department and thanks to generous grants, especially from companies like 3M and other corporate donors, we have developed exciting natural science pilot programs. CNC launched the first grant for five elementary schools three years ago and just this year a new grant was initiated for five middle schools, using STEAM curriculum methodology with our talented Education Department in collaboration with the Fulton County Charter School System and five local middle schools.

By blending these curricula and using life sciences as the context, we are able to provide foundational blended learning to inspire students. This will help them in the future as they consider future careers and also as they devise potential solutions for existing and future challenges that we can’t even anticipate yet.

“Lives are snowflakes – unique in detail, forming patterns we have seen before, but as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection).”
Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Notice how similar the Peregrine Falcon looks during flight to the B-2 bomber. This is “biomimicry” – humans design following natural form.

Nature provides excellent engineering examples; hence mankind’s focus on ‘biomimicry.’ For instance, the aerospace industry has been copying birds in flight since the first airplane was launched. Being confident in the fundamentals of the natur

al sciences is essential, but knowing how science and engineering are also linked to math can give students a head start on problem solving with the ‘big picture’ as they begin to comprehend how multiple systems interconnect.

Let’s consider that snowflake again. How does it form? Water molecules are composed of oxygen atoms. When those atoms freeze, they have strong attractions to the electron clouds of two hydrogen atoms that pull close but leave the two ends positively charged, the center of the “V” is more negatively charged. As the water molecules touch, the negatively and positively charged parts of different particles join together in a very specific three-dimensional pattern with precise six-sided symmetry. Each water molecule that joins that snowflake reflects this pattern until eventually its macroscopic six-sided shape is formed. In fact, that single snowflake demonstrates a finite space, with infinite designs, describing fractals. The average snowflake can be made up of up to 180 billion molecules of water! If you draw it, you will see a geometric design that is a mathematical equation. It is a classic example of how to closely examine chemistry, physics, math (geometry), and even art! Did you ever cut out a piece of paper to look like a snow flake?


You can even extend the lesson to consider ‘water.’ Of course, it is this essential natural resource that we all depend on that snow is composed of. About 98% of the Earth’s water is in the oceans, yet only 2% is fresh water. About 90% of that fresh water is permanently frozen, mostly locked up in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. About 12% of the Earth’s surface land is covered by permanent ice and snow. When you consider how much snow falls just in the USA each year, it is indeed wondrous!

The enchantment of nature is how it stimulates our curiosity. We learn about ourselves, even while we explore other topics and learn about other organisms. It’s recognizing how big the world beyond our world is. It’s appreciating our native animals as well as marveling at microscopic macro invertebrates. It’s wondering at everything yet to be discovered as we explore and observe the fascinating world around us.


That is what we do here at the Chattahoochee Nature Center.  Our staff, volunteers and docents enjoy helping visitors and students alike witness nature’s allure daily. This winter, give some thought to how creative and mysterious nature is when you get outside for a hike. Lean against a tree and look up at the stars at night. Then try to catch a snowflake if it snows. Imagine how big the universe is and how we all play a part in being a part of it.


Get a dose of ‘Vitamin N’ to cure those winter blues

At holiday time, we wonder what to give others. What will make our children (and us) happy, content, healthy and more relaxed? Perhaps, simply adding a dose of “Vitamin N,” that secret ingredient we call “Nature,” would enrich and enlighten our families while also making us all healthier.

Can you collect your thoughts in front of a TV? Rarely do people disconnect from the technology that distracts and destroys the very fiber of their relationships to each other. By reconnecting to nature, with a simple walk on a woodland trail, or along a river boardwalk, you can experience something healing and authentic.

Just ask a child what they love about playing outside.  It is that undiscovered rare moment, watching nature in action, like seeing a hawk fly overhead or a fish jump in a pond. It is watching a deer graze, or a butterfly on the flowers. As leaves change colors on trees, then fall for the winter, we see their architecture revealed. Winter has a beauty and simplicity, only observed when we go outside to enjoy it.

Taking a walk in the winter has many benefits for our health. We actually burn more calories in cold weather when we go outside and exercise. Connecting to nature has many other benefits – it can calm the spirit and give us time to think. It can also be a great way to be together when we get outside as families.

Get outside this winter to battle "nature deficit disorder!"
Get outside this winter to battle “nature deficit disorder!”

Giving the gift of Vitamin N is a treat. Consider taking your family out for a hike to one of the many places that Roswell has to offer, including the safe and easy trails at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, where there are also plenty of native wildlife to see as well as enriching activities to make the experience fun for everyone.

The Nature Center offers programs daily throughout the winter months. Visit the new beavers on exhibit. A gift of membership to CNC is a great idea. It can overcome that “nature deficit disorder,” which can result from too much time in front of TVs and other electronic devices. Check out these many possibilities at but take time to get yourself some Vitamin N!