Gettysburg Nature Alliance

Think about those two words for a second or two. We really can’t have one without the other, can we? Without a habitat, heritage isn’t really possible.

We are fortunate to live and work in Gettysburg, one of our nation’s most recognizable and important places. Famous for the three-day Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 that helped change the course of the Civil War, Gettysburg also is home to an impactful and relevant natural environment. So many natural resources affected the battle—the weather, the geology, the water and its availability. We often think of our heritage in terms of major events in our lives, but we sometimes fail to remember that through everything, our habitat played a vital role. Without the planet, without our home, our heritage could not continue to evolve.

Our heritage, indeed, has much to offer our habitat and all of humanity. And our habitat, in return, has much to offer our heritage.

The Gettysburg Nature Alliance, a nonprofit formed in 2017, focuses on the relationship between habitat and heritage and educates about Gettysburg and our collective natural and historic resources.

We aim to strengthen invaluable connections between education, environment and enterprise for societal benefit—and we want to ensure that our community—embracing its habitat and its heritage, is sustainable and prosperous for years to come. We hear a great deal about “sustainability” these days, but what does it mean? To us, it means taking action through tangible, visible initiatives.

To advance its mission of educating about habitat and heritage, the Nature Alliance has carried out two key initiatives that will carry it into 2020 and beyond:

• The Gettysburg Heritage Center, located at 297 Steinwehr Avenue, has become part of the Nature Alliance, adding substantial historic educational resources and an established, visible destination to help tell the story of habitat and heritage. Operates the Gettysburg Heritage Center, which serves as a visitor and education hub and features a museum, orientation, tours, visitor information, a gift shop and bookstore and special events.

• Construction was started on a learning barn near the historic Sach’s Bridge, next to the Nature Alliance’s existing learning orchard. Working with schools and local, regional and national partners, the learning barn will host educational programs and will allow the Alliance to play a hands-on role in preserving Marsh Creek and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Additionally, the Nature Alliance’s habitat (science) education team will continue to work with teachers and develop curricula for STEM-related programming. The alliance’s STEM teacher-training programs demonstrate environmental challenges through programs on the American Chestnut tree, invasive species, water and air.

Founded on a model of marrying education and enterprise for the good of the community, the Nature Alliance is committed to working with national, regional and local partners, like The American Chestnut Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Strawberry Hill Foundation, the American Battlefield Trust, Gettysburg’s Licensed Battlefield Guides, universities, and school systems.

As the Nature Alliance moves into this new year of 2020, it plans to continue and expand on its mission in the following ways:

• Build on and expand the educational programming at the Gettysburg Heritage Center to include “habitat” programming—starting with topics about how the habitat affected Gettysburg’s heritage and helping people understand why it is so important to preserve that habitat as we move forward.

• Complete construction of the learning barn near historic Sach’s Bridge and invite students and partners to learn in a setting like no other. The bridge itself (not owned by the Nature Alliance) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a popular tourist destination.

• Expand upon the solid “habitat” educational foundation laid by the Alliance’s founders and continue to explore ways to work with teachers and their students on vital STEM curricula.

• Expand its community outreach, working with partners, to help visitors and residents understand the vital connection between habitat and heritage.

• Expand educational programming that encourages people of all ages to get outside. Science has proven that being in nature—surrounded by our habitat—has positive physical and mental impact.

• Revise and update website, social media and other marketing efforts to explain the connection between habitat and heritage.

Our compelling combination of heritage and habitat will help the community and its thousands of visitors experience and learn about our environment (no matter where they may live!) in a setting like no other.

Get outside. Look around. Explore. Remember. Think about YOUR habitat and heritage.

Join us as we take action to achieve real-world impact on the education about and preservation of our collective natural and historic resources. For information about the Gettysburg Nature Alliance and the Gettysburg Heritage Center, visit www.gettysburgnature.org or www.gettysburgheritage.org. You also can send an email to info@gettysburgnature.org.

Dru Anne Neil is president of the Gettysburg Nature Alliance.

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