Posts Tagged ‘Georgia-Pacific Foundation’

From Corporate America to the Classroom: Teacher Awarded Fellowship with National Park Trust

Washington, DC (April 16, 2019) – National Park Trust (NPT) is pleased to announce that Chelsea Vines, a 3rd-grade teacher from M. Agnes Jones Elementary School in Atlanta, GA, has been selected as NPT’s Youth Programs Fellow.

As a two-year fellow, Ms. Vines will serve as an education advisor to the NPT Board of Trustees as a member of the board’s youth programs committee. She will also participate in board meetings including an annual fall meeting in a national park.

NPT has worked closely with Ms. Vines since 2014, when M. Agnes Jones was welcomed into its national Buddy Bison School Program to provide outdoor environmental education for their 3rd grade students—thanks to a multi-year sponsorship from the Georgia-Pacific Foundation.

Prior to becoming a teacher, Ms. Vines was a financial services manager for a major Fortune 500 corporation in Atlanta; however in 2005 she decided to leave the corporate world in search of something more personally fulfilling. She was selected as a 2006 Teach for America Corps Member and upon completion of their rigorous summer institute, she was placed as a 1st-grade teacher at M. Agnes Jones Elementary, a Title I school in downtown Atlanta where over 98% of the students receive free or reduced-price lunch. Over the years, while she has changed grade levels within the school, she has always been passionate about providing new enriching opportunities for her students.

“I’m honored to be named the newest National Park Trust Youth Programs Fellow,” noted Ms. Vines. “NPT continues to give our students the opportunity to see and experience their community in a different light.  NPT provides real-life experiences for kids who would only ‘see’ what they learn in a textbook.”

Because of the support from the Georgia-Pacific Foundation, Ms. Vines has been able to incorporate environmental education, outdoor recreation, and stewardship—the 3 pillars of the Buddy Bison School Program—into every aspect of her classroom. She was integral in securing STEM accreditation for her school as part of a committee of teachers who worked to inspire others by incorporating STEM lessons across the curriculum.  Thanks to the efforts of that committee, M. Agnes Jones was the first school in Atlanta to receive full STEM accreditation, and most recently STEAM, accreditation.

“Students’ lives have changed significantly through inspirational teachers such as Ms. Vines and the impactful programs offered through NPT,” said JaKathryn Ross, Georgia-Pacific’s Senior Director of Community Affairs.  “Georgia-Pacific is proud to be a long-standing supporter of the Buddy Bison School Program and educators in our community.”

Ms. Vines has witnessed first-hand the difference that an outdoor education can have in allowing students to learn in their own way. In 2018, one of her students was completely non-verbal, but when he had the opportunity to learn about farming by harvesting radishes at Serenbe Farms during one of the Buddy Bison field trips, he surprised everyone by exclaiming with glee, “Look! I have a radish!”

Because of her extraordinary efforts to connect her students with the benefits of the great outdoors, Ms. Vines was also the recipient of NPT’s 2018 National Educator Award for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship.

“With her unique background and dedication to surrounding her students with STEM education opportunities, she is an ideal teacher to become NPT’s newest fellow,” added Billy Schrack, director of youth programs at National Park Trust. “She ties her classroom into the wider world and provides a rich experience for every student.”



National Park Trust (NPT) is a non-profit dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. NPT is the only land trust with a comprehensive mission of protecting national parks through land acquisition and creating a pipeline of future park stewards by getting kids to parks. Since 1983, NPT has completed 70 land projects in 31 states, 1 US Territory, and Washington, DC. This school year, NPT will provide an estimated 25,000 under-served kids with park trips through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park (GA)

This month, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park Act was signed into law which changed the designation of this National Park Service (NPS) unit from a national historic site to a national historic park. Did you know that in 1996 NPT donated three parcels of land to benefit the park?

In 1996 NPT worked with NPS to purchase three parcels of privately held land to be added to the park. NPS removed dilapidated buildings on the properties which made it possible to create a “welcoming gateway” for visitors to the park. The purchase also made construction of better parking facilities and consequently better access to the park possible.

In addition, thanks to support from the Georgia-Pacific Foundation, M. Agnes Jones Elementary has been a part of the Buddy Bison School Program (BBSP) for 4 years. BBSP provided opportunities for third graders from M. Agnes Jones to visit this important historic site. These students learned not only about the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. but also that our national parks chronicle the story of our country and thus are worthy of protection and preservation.

And The Buddy Goes To…

It’s award season! We all know about the Emmys, the Oscars and the Tonys. This month, NPT surprised Chelsea Vines from M. Agnes Jones Elementary with The Buddy Award our National Educator Award for Excellence in Environmental Stewardship.

Every year we honor an extraordinary environmental education leader. Chelsea has played an important lead role in the implementation of the Buddy Bison Program at her school, engaging their 3rd-grade students with local parks and the great outdoors. She uses parks to enhance the classroom curricula and creates priceless memories for her students at the same time. Congratulations Chelsea!

M. Agnes Jones has been a Buddy Bison School for 4 years. During this time, students have experienced the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Sweetwater Creek State Park, MLK National Historic Park, Serenbe Farms, and the Fernbank and Tellus Museums. Agnes Jones is sponsored by the Georgia-Pacific Foundation which underwrites all of these experiential adventures. Principal Margul Woolfolk, Curley Dossman, head of the foundation and Beverly Ferguson, Senior Director of Community Affairs at Georgia-Pacific helped us plan for this surprise presentation to honor Chelsea. And boy was she surprised!

Thank you Chelsea and M. Agnes Jones Elementary School for leading by example and showing your students how beneficial and great the outdoors really are!