Fairfax County School Age Child Care Program Partners with National Park Service for Training

Contact for News Media:
Angela Morlu, Communications Specialist II
Department of Family Services
703-324-7528, TTY 703-222-9452

August 27, 2013

Fairfax County Office for Children’s School Age Child Care (SACC) program welcomed Julia Washburn of the National Park Service and Billy B., a natural science song and dance man, as keynote speakers at its annual orientation program, Tuesday Aug. 27. Washburn introduced teachers to various outdoor recreation opportunities and natural resources found in the Washington area’s 14 national parks. Billy B.’s active presentation focused on techniques for developing songs, dances and audience participatory routines that teach natural science concepts.

SACC’s curriculum focus this year, “Digging Deeper into the Wonders of Nature” encourages teachers to tap into children’s innate curiosity about nature to expand their understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the natural world. More than 700 SACC staff members attended the annual orientation to learn how to put the theme into action for the 2013-2014 program year. SACC serves over 13,000 children in the before and after-school centers located in most Fairfax County elementary schools.

At this all-day event, SACC teachers learned about topics including forensic science, microbiology, weather, healthy eating, movement and nature, gardening, and reptiles and amphibians. Workshops gave teachers a hands-on opportunity to learn techniques for creating new activities in these areas, as well as provided fresh approaches to tried and true nature exploration activities that they can use with children in SACC.

Workshops and exhibits featured an array of leading organizations in the field, including the National Museum of Health and Medicine, the US Geological Survey, NASA Science Mission, the Virginia Audubon Council and National Audubon Society, National Geographic, and WRC NBC Washington. Additional presentations from the National Park Service included “Healthy Parks Healthy People” and “Interpreting Natural Resources in our National Parks.”

“We look forward to working with SACC to get children excited about national parks and the great outdoors,” said Washburn, the National Park Service’s Associate Director for Interpretation, Education and Volunteers. “It is so important to connect children to nature at an early age. Studies show that time spent outdoors has a positive impact on a child’s mental, physical and emotional health.”

A variety of Fairfax County Park Authority parks, nature centers and programs also were represented including Riverbend Park, Green Spring Garden Park, Hidden Pond and Hidden Oak Nature Centers, Frying Pan Farm Park and Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. Park Authority presenters spoke on subjects ranging from “Astronomy” to “Stones and Bones.”

“This event is an excellent opportunity to introduce SACC teachers to some wonderful natural and cultural history program opportunities and educational tools offered through the Park Authority as well as the sites that can provide services and act as resources for educators. The knowledge that they gain about Fairfax County’s natural resources will be shared with inquisitive, young minds,” said Fairfax County Park Authority Resource Management Division Director Cindy Walsh.

Anne Goldstein, SACC director commented, “SACC staff ended their day with information, inspiration, and new ideas. Partnering with organizations such as the Fairfax County Park Authority and the National Park Service opens the door to endless opportunities for the children to discover and explore the wonders of nature!“

Green Spring Garden Park

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