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Exploring the Grow-Up-Great-Outdoors

Nature becomes a classroom through a partnership with a Kentucky park

Knowing that children are innately drawn to nature, PNC and The Parklands of Floyds Fork in Louisville, Kentucky, have partnered to create unique learning opportunities. Through multiple grant initiatives over several years, PNC has supported efforts to stimulate children’s curiosity, critical thinking and discovery of the outdoors in a safe and dynamic learning environment.

In 2011 and 2012, through support from PNC Grow Up Great®, The Parklands collaborated with the Kentucky Science Center to roll out a series of programs focused on outdoor education for young learners. These programs included hikes, day camps and festivals in The Parklands’ outdoor classroom. Over 2,000 learning experiences contributed to the development of curricula supporting pre-K outdoor education that meets the needs and interests of today’s educators.

Pre-K students searching for crayfish and salamanders in Beckley Creek

The PNC Achievement Center, which opened in 2013 with support from PNC, gives educators several new options at The Parklands. They can offer both in-classroom and outdoor learning experiences to children, from preschool and beyond, that lead to an understanding of the landscape and the creatures that live within it. For example, “Wednesday Wonders” – a popular weekly program for children ages 5 and younger – allows the kids to choose a topic for the week, ranging from animals to plants and more. More than 15,000 children participate in PNC Achievement Center programs each year.

Hands-on learning with “Russell” the box turtle

The Achievement Center was expanded in June 2016 with the opening of the Osage Orange Explorer Trail. Developed with support from PNC grant funds and employee volunteers, the trail sparks children’s curiosity and tempts families from the nearby playground to join an outdoor educational experience unlike any other in Louisville.

A view down the Osage Orange Explorer Trail