Story and photos by Jean Mangan
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For many, education means studying school subjects like math, science, history, and language arts. Education also includes social and emotional education. Getting along in groups, waiting your turn, sharing, reading social cues, using appropriate reactions in public, and finding words to express needs are all valuable soft skills that people need to both learn and practice, particularly in a world where so much interaction occurs through a screen. There is also environmental education: conservation of resources, respect for animals, and knowledge of how our decisions to play fit into a larger world and the effects of those decisions. In fact, education does not mean just systematic instruction, but also means an enlightening experience.There are many different places in Athens and Oconee County that are both enlightening experiences and also contain elements of traditional schooling.
10 Athens-Oconee Parent
Bear Hollow Zoo
293 Gran Ellen Dr., Athens, Ga. 30606 Bear Hollow is home to a variety of animals native to the Southeast who, for various reasons, cannot be released back into the wild. When you enter the zoo, there are signs that tell you the background behind the animals that reside there. Children can learn about animals, wildlife conservation, and the importance of respecting our environment.The zoo is part of Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services, and admission is free.They also host seasonal events requiring a small entry fee that goes towards maintenance of the grounds and care for the animals.
State Botanical Garden of Georgia
2450 S. Milledge Ave., Athens, Ga. 30605 The Botanical Garden has walking trails, curated gardens, a greenhouse and nature areas, all of which are carefully maintained by the staff.There are signs throughout the exhibits that let you know names and facts about the plants.The garden also has a robust event calendar with a variety of activities year-round. The garden is currently in the process of creating the Alice H. Richards’ Children’s Garden, a twoand- a-half-acre tract that will house educational and interactive types of landscapes and will also serve to educate children on nature, healthy foods, and healthy bodies. My family is definitely looking forward to this project being completed!
Clockwise from top: Bear Hollow Zoo has a reptile house, where kids can get close to frogs, snakes, and more. Georgia Museum of Art Family Fun Day (SPECIAL PHOTO) includes a lesson and an art project. Informational plaques make a visit to the State Botanical Garden an educational experience.
Georgia Museum of Art
90 Carlton St., Athens, Ga. 30602 The museum is, according to its website, both an academic museum and the official art museum of the state of Georgia. In an effort to connect with all ages of Georgia residents, the museum hosts Family Days on one Saturday a month and Toddler Tuesday on one Tuesday a month.There is a different theme for each event, often coinciding with a special exhibit at the museum or a particular holiday, or showcasing pieces in the permanent collection. There is an art activity included that complements the event’s theme.This is also a great