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Fernbank Museum offers end-of-summer, start-of-school programs; famed forest

The architecture of Fernbank Museum adds to the experience of the facility located on Clifton Road, in Atlanta. Credit: Kelly Jordan

By David Pendered

Fernbank Museum is to offer its Summer Science Fest for two more weekends, offering an educational respite at the close of a season that – for some – has been anything but a Summer O’ Fun.

Fernbank salamander

Salamanders are the types of critters that some folks encountered during the virtual City Nature Challenge, in April. This one was spotted at Fernbank. File/Credit: Fernbank

Fernbank is one of the many non-profit destinations in metro Atlanta that have struggled to safely serve the public through the pandemic. The facility is located at 767 Clifton Road, in Atlanta; tickets must be purchased online; and masks and social distancing are required while on site.

Fernbank adapted to the pandemic by sponsoring a virtual City Nature Challenge in April; hosting virtual summer camps tailored for youngsters ranging in age from 5 years to 13 years; reopening in June with a full suite of COVID-19 safeguards, and launched the Summer Science Fest on Aug. 1. Fernbank launched the program to provide a range of scientific subjects.

The famed Fernbank Forest is open to visitors. Fernbank describes the forest as:

  • “75 acres of trees and plants, including some of the city’s largest ‘champion’ trees, important native plants, gorgeous views, and the bank of ferns that inspired Fernbank’s name (hint: near “elephant rock” in Fernbank Forest).”

This is the same forest where former National Georgraphic photographer Peter Essick spent two years creating images for a book titled, Fernbank Forest.

The book was published by Fall Line Press, an independent publisher of art books, based at the Goat Farm Arts Center. The book is priced at $75.

Essick ran a Kickstarter campaign to complete the project. The goal of $6,000 was surpassed when 62 contributors provided a total of $6,971, according to the page. Essick wrote that Fernbank had provided a commission for the work, and the additional funding was needed to “print the book to the highest standards.”

The architecture of Fernbank Museum adds to the experience of the facility located on Clifton Road, in Atlanta. Credit: Kelly Jordan

The calendar of events begins Saturday at 10 a.m. Demonstrations conclude at 2 p.m. Fernbank Forest and Wildwoods is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fernbank continues its focus on education on Sunday, when educators are to be admitted free. Fernbank officials who work with field trips will be available to talk about on-site visits, as well as virtual learning experiences Fernbank has created in response to the pandemic.

Throughout the academic year, Fernbank plans to provide education programs tailored for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Field trip participants will be required to comply with CDC and local regulations regarding COVID-19. For instance, Fernbank intends to lower the capacity limits of its facilities, require that a mask that covers the nose and mouth be worn, and require that students main social distancing.

Programs address some of the social concerns of this era. For example, a 45-minute program designed for students in grades six through 12 focuses on the role of human jewelry and clothing across various cultures. The program’s summary observes:

  • “Explore world cultures through an examination of personal adornment, including jewelry, costumes and body modification. Students will gain a better understanding of cultural diversity and how people use personal adornment or ornamentation to communicate social, political and economic information about themselves and the societies in which they live.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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