This year the Intown Atlanta Georgia Native Plant Society is making it easy for Atlanta families to participate in the Great Georgia Pollinator Census Count by offering free Pollinator Picnics at five sites around intown Atlanta on Saturday, August 20 from 10:00am to noon. (To learn all about the Pollinator Picnics CLICK HERE before reading on).
Kids who participate in the count deepen their understanding of pollinators – for participants of all ages it has been shown to increase appreciation for insects, awareness about their habitat needs, and create more excitement, interest, and understanding of why to plant native plants to attract insects. This is undoubtedly why a growing number of schools are participating in the yearly count and follow-up lesson plans aligned to the Georgia Performance Standards.
All the supplies needed to participate in the count will be at each of the five Intown GNPS Pollinator Picnic sites including counting and pollinator identification sheets, clipboards, and pencils. There will be handouts for kids to explore nature at the sites and of course there will be stickers for the kid in all of us. Experts and plant enthusiasts from the Intown GNPS will be on hand to help identify both native plants and pollinators.
For all the sites, be prepared to be in a natural space in August in Atlanta. If it has rained the day before, wear shoes or boots for any muddy conditions that might exist. Apply any insect repellent before you go to any of the sites so no pollinators are harmed during the count.
The five unique sites throughout intown Atlanta offer different spaces where families can have fun learning about and counting pollinators, have a picnic or lunch nearby, and find other family-friendly activities. If you choose either Mason Mill Park or Zonolite Park as your Pollinator Picnic site, the DeKalb County Junior Ranger Activity Journal is a great resource designed to offer nature activities for kids to use at nature parks. Read below to help figure out which Pollinator Picnic site you want to make a plan to visit. (The link to all five Pollinator Picnic sites are all on this Google map)
Atlanta History Center Entrance Garden at the front of the museum includes Georgia native plants with an emphasis on grasses echoing the look of American prairies. If you visit this site for the Pollinator Count parking is free and there is a Brash Coffee and a Souper Jenny’s in the museum where you can get your morning coffee and your picnic lunch. You can also bring your own picnic and snacks to enjoy at the amazing 60-foot white oak tree table in the garden. Atlanta History Center has discounted admission for anyone who participates in the pollinator count. With admission there will also be guided nature walks. Parking is free in the AHC main parking deck at 130 W Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305.
Gordon-White Park and adjacent Westside section of the Beltline will offer an opportunity to compare and contrast pollinator habitat at a traditionally landscaped city park and a section of the Westside Beltline that has been planted with native plants. Parking is available on Hopkins St SW. The park is a perfect spot for a family picnic and there are other food options nearby in Atlanta’s Historic West End. After the count you can make a plan to walk the Beltline or to explore the neighborhood at the Hammonds House Museum or the Wren’s Nest.
The 4 acres of land at the GSU Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden offer an opportunity for exploration and wonder in a beautiful natural space with over 4,000 species of native, rare, and endangered native plants. After the count wander through the Ferns of the World Garden which has more species of native and non-native ferns than any other garden in the US and possibly in the world! Dekalb County master gardeners and Intown GNPS volunteers will be on site to help with native plant identification. There will be light refreshments provided by the GSU Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden. GSU is also hosting a native plant sale on site from 10:00am-2:00pm the same day as the count - bring the family to pick out and bring home pollinator plants to invite pollinators to your own yard! You can find the GSU Perimeter garden at the rear of the parking lot that is shared with the Dekalb High School of Technology at 3251 Panthersville Rd, Decatur, GA 30034.
Mason Mill Park is part of a 120-acre urban forest with an extensive network of paved and unpaved trails for hiking, biking, or just walking! There are plenty of places for a family picnic including a covered pavilion near the large playground by the Dekalb Tennis Center. If you want to have an outing to take out books about pollinators and nature, the Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams public library is adjacent to the park and having a big book sale the same day. If you choose to eat out instead of having a picnic, there are many food options nearby in Toco Hills shopping center. For the Pollinator Count park near the DeKalb Tennis Center in Mason Mill Park and follow signs for ½ mile along the South Peachtree Creek PATH to reach the count site.
Zonolite Park is a 13-acre urban sanctuary that offers a field for families to run and play in, paths through an old growth forest, and a creek to explore that runs along the length of the park. There's even a Little Free Library at the entrance to the park and they're an iNaturalist site. Families can have a picnic on a blanket in the field or at the picnic table under the pavilion in a community garden surrounded by flowers. There is no better way to experience the reason to restore habitat for pollinators than Zonolite Park, a brownfield restoration site that is now home to the threatened and rare American bumblebees you will see during the pollinator count. There will also be pollinator themed treats at this site for everyone who stops by. The main parking lot is located on Zonolite Place, near the intersection of Johnson Road and Braircliff in DeKalb County. The address is 1164 Zonolite Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306.
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