Ballantyne Magazine covers news, events, real estate, restaurants, shopping, health, schools and business in the upscale Ballantyne Area of Charlotte, NC.
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Take It Outside! Audubon Amphitheater Offers Nature Setting for School Lessons Photos by Ray Sepesy "A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children." THAT OBSERVATION by John James Audubon, the 19th century American naturalist and wildlife artist, has never been more relevant as people today recognize the need to understand and protect Mother Nature. For that reason, The Bissell Companies is inviting Ballantyne-area teachers and school groups to consider using the Audubon Amphitheater in Ballantyne Corporate Park (BCP) for class lessons about conservation, the environment and other topics. Looking out on the pond on the 17th hole of The Golf Club at Ballantyne, the beautifully landscaped pocket park features a manicured lawn with two semi-circular tiers of large, flat rocks that serve as seating for 100 people. The outdoor facility also includes six picnic tables, a gazebo and "The Necessary," an on-site restroom. Close by in the 17th Pond Event Area is a fishing dock stocked with fish food and a bench for anglers engaged in the conservation practice of catch and release. Built in 2012 "The vision was to transform the area into a park that could be used for outdoor learning opportunities and social gatherings," says H.C. "Smoky" Bissell, chairman of Bissell. "We wanted it to be a place in Ballantyne Corporate Park where tenants and visitors would come to enjoy fresh air, eat lunch, read a book or take a leisurely walk." Built in 2012, the amphitheater underwent a rigorous certification process to qualify as an Audubon cooperative sanctuary. To date, BCP tenants have used the site for company picnics and team-building exercises. Recently, the Endhaven Elementary Girls Engaged in Math and Science Club, the "GEMS," visited the amphitheater for a workshop led by Debbie Foster, founding member of Habitat and Wildlife Keepers. In a one-hour seminar, the third and fourth graders learned about healthy habitats and how to use binoculars and went on a wildlife hike, according to the school PTA's Facebook page. The students spotted butterflies, bumblebees, a dragonfly, fish, rabbits, lizards, birds, a nest of bluebird eggs and a great blue heron. After the hike, they learned about bird watching and the many species that can be seen in the Corporate Park. 'Possibilities are Endless' The success of this first educational experience prompted The Bissell Companies to promote the Audubon Amphitheater as an outdoor classroom. "With Bissell's ongoing commitment to building a stronger future for our community, we would love to offer this space as an opportunity to connect local students with nature through on-site workshops," says Hailey Rorie, the organization's community director. Ideas include studies on wildlife habitats, bird identification and sustainability, as well as field trips exploring science topics at various grade levels. "We would also encourage music, art and reading experiences," Rorie adds. "The possibilities are endless, and we just want to make local schools aware of this opportunity." To start the approval process for a group outing at the amphitheater, visit www.goballantyne.com/maps/park-reservations. "The vision was to transform the area into a park that could be used for outdoor learning opportunities and social gatherings." — H.C. "Smoky" Bissell Chairman, The Bissell Companies BALLANTYNE MAGAZINE 65 FALL 2016