Cincinnati Nature Center

With a generous grant from longtime Breneman Co. executive Charles Judd in 2013, FamiliesFORWARD and the Cincinnati Nature Center began a partnership to expose inner-city children to the benefits of nature hikes and science learning.

Originally, 30 students each from Bond Hill Academy, Carson School, Evanston Academy and Hays-Porter School, along with a half-dozen chaperones each trip, traveled by bus to the Nature Center’s 1,025-acre Rowe Woods in Milford for hiking. Students were divided into groups, with designated Trailblazers leading the hikes on various trails.

The half-day outings continued in 2014 for students at Bond Hill, Carson and Hays-Porter, again with Judd’s generosity just before he passed away in October of that year. Judd was a philanthropist and an outdoors enthusiast whose vision was to provide children who might not get an opportunity to experience nature to be able to do so.

The hikes provide students, most of whom live in urban neighborhoods with little greenspace, an opportunity to learn about wildlife in the Great Outdoors. Trained staff members at the Nature Center provide explanations about plants, animals and the environment. Children enjoy a hands-on experience that they will remember for years to come.

FamiliesFORWARD and the Nature Center agreed to expand the partnership beyond the hikes in 2015.

First, the organizations developed a Mentoring Field Trip that paired 10 Withrow University High School students with 10 Bond Hill Academy students by gender. The students engaged in a scavenger hunt that required them to find items that began with each letter of the alphabet during a hike. They also fed ducks and turtles during the April event.

The half-day hikes continued in June for the three elementary schools. Then, in July 2015, a program named Earth Kids began, with 26 Bond Hill and Hays-Porter students attending Monday-through-Friday day camps at the Nature Center’s Long Branch Farm & Trails in Goshen. Partly funded through the donation of another benefactor, the Meshewa Farm Foundation, the day camps offered even more science-learning opportunities for the students. Hiking, “creeking” (in which students caught frogs, crawfish, snakes and salamanders), canoeing, games and fossil discovery were all fun for the students at the 632-acre mix of farmland and forest.

The FamiliesFORWARD-Cincinnati Nature Center partnership will continue to provide an exciting outdoors experience for students as long as funding is available. If you are interested in helping, see the Donor Form tab on our website.