Friends of Red Clay receives environmental education grant
by Special to the Banner
May 04, 2014 | 658 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Friends of Red Clay State Historic Area recently received a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation.

The $2,000 Every Day Events grant was offered to public land organizations, or Friends groups, to engage their community on a public land site.

The grant supports Friends groups across the nation by helping them provide programs and events which are educational, recreational and/or volunteer-based.

By increasing the number of visitors who have good experiences on public lands, Friends groups are the spark that continues to engage the communities on treasured lands.

Friends of Red Clay was one of 50 Friends groups nationwide who learned in March they had been awarded the grant.

The NEEF grant was matched by additional funds from Friends of Red Clay to bring several opportunities this year to park visitors and the surrounding community.

Programs to look forward to, which are being supported by the NEEF grant include hiking with a Cherokee naturalist/herbalist, classes on basket weaving and pottery, and a summer workshop for area K-12 teachers: “A Historic Tour through Cherokee Lands.”

“We were overjoyed when we learned we had been awarded the NEEF grant and are thrilled to be bringing these opportunities to the public,” states Tammera Hicks, president of Friends of Red Clay.

“This grant is not only helping us to enhance our already popular festivals, it is also allowing us to fulfill a whole new area of need. Red Clay and the entire Southeast have such an enormous amount of Cherokee history. We hope these programs will help in increasing the public awareness of the heritage and culture of the area’s original inhabitants.”

During Cherokee Heritage Festival on Aug. 2 and 3, Red Clay will welcome Darryl Patton, the Southern herbalist.

Patton has often been referred to as a "Walking Encyclopedia of Plants" by those fortunate enough to have been on one of his intensive plant hikes.

With a vast knowledge of the edible and medicinal qualities of the plants found in the Deep South, Patton has an easy going way of introducing plants in an understandable way. By the time you finish one of his plant hikes, you will be amazed at the number of plants you will discover.

Patton is the author of, "Mountain Medicine, The Herbal Remedies of Tommie Bass," published by Natural Reader Press and has appeared on Alabama Public Television, the Comedy Channel and served as a consultant on an episode of “Man vs. Wild.”

During Cherokee Heritage Days, Patton will be conducting hikes and doing live demonstrations throughout the day on how to use various plants found around Red Clay State Historic Area and the South.

Another very special treat coming this summer, Friends of Red Clay and Red Clay State Historic Park will host an all-day workshop for area teachers grades K – 12. Due to limited seating, the same workshop is being offered twice during the summer.

The first workshop will take place on Tuesday, June 17, with the second workshop being held on Tuesday, July 15. Both workshops are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m.

The focus of the workshop will be on the traditions and culture of the Native Cherokee and professional scholars and lecturers will present a panoramic view on the area’s Cherokee history.

Exhibitors from the many different Cherokee historical attractions will be set up to provide information about their destination and the event will include an interpretive tour of Red Clay State Park.

This workshop is being specifically designed to aid teachers in developing classroom curriculum related to Cherokee history and culture.

Information will be sent to all area schools, and will contain instructions on how to register for the event. There is a $30 fee for the class, which covers all the day’s activities, lunch and training materials. This will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, so early registration is advised.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Friends of Red Clay to bring these additional opportunities to the park,” states Erin Medley, park manager of Red Clay.

“Red Clay is such a beautiful and tranquil place and we love hosting events which help to bring understanding and knowledge about Red Clay State Historic Park and the Native Cherokee. In fact, we believe this may be the first time Red Clay has ever hosted a teacher’s workshop concerning the wealth of Cherokee history in this area. If successful, it could be the first of many more to come. We hope all area teachers will take this opportunity to come discover all the Cherokee history found within our region.”

Finally, in October, at this year’s Annual Red Clay Pow Wow, two traditional art classes will be featured for those wishing to learn basket weaving and/or pottery.

The classes will be offered on both Saturday and Sunday and there is a $5 fee to cover the cost of supplies for the class.

Dana Teasley, owner of the consulting firm Local Strategies, assisted Friends of Red Clay in obtaining the grant and is helping with the coordination of the teacher’s workshops.

“I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Friends of Red Clay and Red Clay State Park. I have many fond memories of Red Clay. The park staff and Friends of Red Clay are the heart which keeps this park beating. It’s a great honor to work with such a wonderful group of people.”

All of these opportunities are being made possible with support from the National Environmental Education Foundation grant and Friends of Red Clay State Historic Park. The NEEF grant was made possible through a partnership with the Toyota Motor Sales, USA.