Mid January Updates 2018

Homeschool Seminar, Outdoor Adventure Skills Class, Bird Banding, Summer Summit

2018 – Off and Running launched the New Year at NGCHE. It’s only mid-January, but already we are tickled pink by the wonderful opportunities for homeschool families along the Gulf Coast! Below are a few of the “big things” on our calendar for the upcoming months.

In conjunction with National School Choice Week, and in partnership with Homeschool Now USA, NGCHE will host a short seminar for families considering homeschooling as an educational option. Our Get-to-Know Homeschooling Informational Meeting takes place Thursday, January 25th from 6 – 7 PM at the Moorer/Spring Hill Branch of the Mobile Public Library. Anyone interested in learning more about homeschooling as an educational option is welcome to join us for this free event.

Brinkley Hutchings of Nature Connect Alabama will host an Outdoor Adventure Skills Class for children ages 8-13 at the Village Point Park Preserve in Daphne on February 7 from 9 AM – 1 PM. Long range forecasts predict a return to “normal” Gulf Coast weather within the next few days. Highs in the 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s are expected throughout most of February. An outdoor class that promises adventure, learning, and fun will be just the thing for youngsters with cabin fever. If those long-range weather forecasts don’t hold up, the class will reschedule in case of inclement weather.

NGCHE will join the Birmingham Audubon Society and its partners for Coastal Bird Banding at Fort Morgan, Alabama. This annual spring event is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to observe the capture, banding, and release of birds on their spring migration toward breeding grounds farther south. The event takes place April 17-21, 2018. Since the event is weather-dependent, we will wait until closer to mid-April to choose the exact day. Please pencil in the 17th – 20th as possible dates of attendance.

Teach Them Diligently comes to downtown Mobile May 3-5th. Several years have passed since a major homeschool conference was held in the Port City. TTD gives visitors the opportunity to meet with curricula publishers, support groups, college reps, and other exhibitors with a Christian worldview. Look for Heather from NGCHE volunteering at the conference.

Mobile’s first Summer Summit is coming to Camp Christian on August 4th, 2018. The summit is a unique event focusing on Faith, Friendships, Food and Fun for homeschool moms. Vendor booths will be available for those attendees with small businesses or used curricula to sell. All homeschool moms are invited to join us regardless of where you live. For our friends driving in from out of town, Camp Christian is conveniently located a minute or so from I-10 in the Theodore community southwest of Mobile.

We are excited about these opportunities and others in the works right now. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want more information about anything you see on our website. We look forward to meeting new friends and old in the Gulf Coast Homeschool Community in 2018.


© 2018 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Field Trip: Coastal Bird Banding

Homeschool Field Trip Coastal Bird Banding

Remember our Reluctant Scientist Series with activities and field trips for students who don’t exactly love science? Here’s our latest installment! NGCHE has an opportunity to attend one of the most interesting conservation events along the Gulf Coast — Coastal Bird Banding at Fort Morgan.

Coastal Alabama is a stopping point for birds migrating long distances. Bird banding allows ornithologists to track and study the birds’ migratory patterns. The late Bob Sargent and his wife Martha began banding hummingbirds in the 1980’s in their own backyard near Birmingham. They expanded the project to collect data on a wide variety of species crossing the Fort Morgan Peninsula on their spring migration over the Gulf of Mexico.

Coastal Bird Banding Collage

The Coastal Bird Banding event allows the public a unique opportunity to observe the capture, banding, and release of migrating birds. Stations around the site will give visitors an up-close, personal look at the process. Researchers will be available to explain the steps, answer questions, and educate visitors about conservation efforts.

NGCHE has the opportunity to attend this year’s event. Dr. Andy Coleman, Program & Science Director for the Birmingham Audubon Society, recommends that we attend on a weekday. Because weather will be a factor, he also advises that we wait to choose the exact day we plan to attend. Please pencil in the 17th – 20th of April and stay tuned for an official announcement of the date as the event draws closer. See the Birmingham Audubon Society’s article Coastal Bird Banding for more information about this year’s event.

What can we expect to see in the nets? Just a few of the possibilities include bluebirds, buntings, Chuck-will’s-widows, eagles, fly catchers, gnat catchers, hummingbirds, kestrels, nuthatches, owls, swallows, tanagers, thrashers, thrushes, vireos, warblers, wrens… and more.

Visitors should bring adequate water, food, sunscreen, and bug repellent. Chairs or blankets are also suggested. There is no charge to attend the Bird Banding, but an admission fee is required to enter Fort Morgan park.

To join our mailing list for this field trip, drop us a line at homeschoolfieldtrips@outlook.com. Please include “Coastal Bird Banding” in the subject line. Families on our list will be the first to know when we set an official date for our group’s attendance.

Children of all ages are welcome. Parents of youngsters be advised that the banding will take place in and around the coastal forest. Be prepared to keep an eye on your little ones so that they do not wander into the wooded areas and get lost.

Plan to bring your family, friends, neighbors and join us. Everyone’s welcome in our group. We look forward to learning together about the birds that visit our local habitat.

© 2017-2018 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Outdoor Adventure Skills Class

Outdoor Adventure Skills Class for Homeschool Students Daphne Alabama

Nature Connect Alabama is hosting an Outdoor Adventure Skills Class for homeschool students at the Village Point Park Preserve on March 7, 2018, from 9 AM to 1 PM. The preserve is located at 27710 Main Street, Daphne, Alabama. Topics will include Animal Tracking, Shelter Building, Exploring Outdoors, Plant and Animal Identification. Target age for this class is 8-13 years old.

Students will eat together on site. Please pack a lunch and water for your children. Gulf Coast winters are usually mild. However, class will reschedule in case of inclement weather.

As always, events, classes, or activities organized by NGCHE are open to any homeschool family, their friends, and neighbors, regardless of where you live. If you can get here, you are welcome! If you have friends or family members who normally attend public or private school but are out for the day, they may join us as well.

Cost is $40 per student with a $20 sibling discount and must be paid in full to secure your child’s spot. Payment deadline is Monday, March 5 at 12:00 PM. For questions or payment instructions, please email homeschoolfieldtrips@outlook.com. Include “Outdoor Adventure Skills Class” in the subject line.

NGCHE classes are not refundable. Before you commit your students to to attend, please be sure to review our Policies and Procedures page. Let us know if you have any questions.

See the Nature Connect Alabama website or follow them on Instagram at natureconnectalabama to learn more about their program.

Outdoor Adventure Skills

© 2017-2018 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Growing a Medicinal Garden

With fall upon us and most of the summer crop harvesting complete, many gardeners look forward to a winter season of restful planning. Time to start thinking about next year’s vegetable patches, flower beds, and containers. Will we grow the same things again, or try something new?

Homeschool families can incorporate gardening into their studies. Gardens make for the best science classrooms! Not sure where to start? Don’t fancy yourself a vegetable grower? How about a small medicinal garden?

Home remedies are gaining in popularity as more people seek out natural ingredients in their food and medicine. Devon at The Nitty Gritty Life has a great article to help us get started: Creating a Medicinal Herb Garden. Devon farms in the Willamette Valley of western Oregon. The Willamette region shares the same Hardiness Zone as the Northern Gulf Coast. The herbs she lists in her article are all suitable for growing in the Deep South.

Would you like the opportunity to see a local medicinal garden up close and take notes? Northern Gulf Coast homeschoolers and their friends are invited to join us on our field trip to the Mobile Medical Museum on Friday, November 3rd. Middle and high school students will catalog the plants in the museum’s own medicinal garden. Participants will get an up-close look at plants and herbs native to the Northern Gulf Coast that may be grown for medicinal purposes, their traditional uses, and proper care.

Everyone’s welcome to join us. However, space is limited, so be sure to RSVP ahead of time. One person who does so will win his or her cost of admission back at the end of the trip. See our Contests & Promotions page for details!


Bee pollinating hyssop. Photo courtesy of lucianaeris, Pixabay.

© 2017 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Nature Connect Alabama

Today’s parents understand how important being outdoors is to childhoodNature Connect girl development. Our own children are growing up in a world much different from the one in which we were raised. It can be a challenge to monitor the time our youth spend under the influence of electronic devices, social media, and television. We may catch ourselves thinking back fondly on our own childhoods and realize just how much we took for granted.

The importance of spending regular quality time in the natural environment cannot be underestimated. Yet many of us struggle to provide those vital experiences to our children, especially in a group setting. The desire is there, but our access and abilities may be limited.

Nature Connect collage02

Brinkley Hutchings is an entrepreneur from the Eastern Shore who seeks to equip today’s children to make meaningful connections with the natural world. She draws her inspiration from a childhood spent largely outdoors. Watching meteor showers and bird banding at Fort Morgan with her father are among her most cherished experiences.

Brinkley started Nature Connect with a group of twenty families in Wilmington, North Carolina, in April of 2016. Returning to her home in Montrose, Brinkley saw an opportunity to continue the work she’d begun in North Carolina. Nature Connect Alabama was launched in 2017.

What can participants expect from Nature Connect? Activities are carefully chosen based on age. A child might engage in

outdoor exploration, hiking, nature awareness exercises, identification of flora and fauna, animal tracking, storytelling, crafts, canoeing, fishing with seine nets, beach activities, and more.

Spontaneous learning is also an integral part of the experience.

Nature Connect collage03

Nature Connect offers drop-off programs for

  • preschool kids ages 3-5
  • home school students ages 5-10
  • school children ages 8-12 after school hours

(Age ranges are guidelines to suitability; some flexibility is possible.)

Forest Families is a program for children ages 3 and under accompanied by an adult caregiver.

Nature Connect collage01

Preschool, home school, and Forest Families meet at Village Point Park Preserve in Daphne. After-school programs meet at the Sibley Street Public Beach Access in Montrose. Summer Camps are planned for June 2018. Custom experiences, including birthday parties and field trips, may be arranged in advance.

Providing children and youth with experiences in the natural world is only one of Nature Connect’s goals. As kids learn to respect and love the outdoors, they also learn to do the same for each other. As they grow better equipped in safety, self awareness, and independent thinking, they also learn to develop compassion and kindness, build healthy relationships, and express their emotions positively. All of these skills fit together to develop children into stronger, more capable youth.

For contact information, registration instructions, pricing, and other details, see the Nature Connect Alabama website. You may also follow them on Instagram at natureconnectalabama.

All photos in this article are the property of Nature Connect and may not be used without prior permission. 

© 2017 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators