Interpretive Programs at Panola Mountain State Park

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Available Outreach Programs

Outreach Programs can be scheduled within a 20-mile radius of the park. If you can't make the trip to the park, we will bring a little piece of the park to you. The cost is $150.00 per program for a group (30 students or less), and $5.00 for each additional participant. The following outreach programs are available. Please call 770-389-7801 for more information or to schedule an outreach program.

The Virtual Panola Mountain Tour

We will take a virtual hike on Panola Mountain via a slide show and various show and tell items found at the park. This program can be curtailed to different age levels and areas of study including geology, ecology, forestry, and zoology. (Can be suitable for 3rd–6th grade)

The Owl's Pellet

A park ranger will bring supplies including owl pellets (1 pellet good for two students), a chart identifying bones found in the pellet, and paper plates and toothpicks for dissection of the pellets. Students will learn about food webs, construct a simple food chain, and infer the owl's role in the environment.

Reptile Wild!

A park ranger will bring out various types of live reptiles found at Panola Mountain. Students will learn what a reptile is, what role reptiles play in our environment, diversity of reptiles, and what to do if you come face to face with a possibly venomous snakes. After the program, participants will get a chance to interact with real live native Georgia snakes.

Additional Information

  • Covered picnic shelters and grills are available to reserve at Panola Mountain. Advance reservations are $70.00. Advanced reservations can be made online or by calling 800-864-7275. Shelters can be rented first come first serve if not already reserved.
  • Teachers and group leaders must fill out and submit an Educational Request Form Group Contract.
  • Teachers and group leaders will be responsible for the behavior of their students at all times. Groups larger than 30 will have to be divided between the ranger led activity and free time.
  • Please be on time for your scheduled program. If running late, call to let us know. We try to keep on schedule so that you may return to school on time. Occasionally we have groups scheduled back-to-back and late arrivals may either shorten or possibly forfeit their program.
  • Rain dates are available. We still present the program indoor as well as outdoors in misty rain or cold weather, so please have your students dress accordingly.
  • If you have any questions regarding field trip reservations, please call the park office at 770-389-7801.

Teachers and Group Leaders

Teachers and group leaders have the opportunity to experience Panola Mountain on a self-guided basis, or schedule a ranger-led tour. Panola Mountain offers three different public nature trails, and an Interpretive Center that has geology displays, live and static animal displays, and information about the park. The cost of most ranger-lead programs is now $5 per participant with a minimum cost of $60 per group. Parking is free for official school vehicles (school bus/van etc.). Any personal vehicles must display a valid ParkPass. Parking fees for all non-ranger-led field trips and field trips other than with an accredited school field trip are:

  • $5.00 for vehicles with less than 13 passengers
  • $30.00 for vehicles with 13–30 passengers
  • $70.00 for vehicles that hold 30 or more passengers
  • Fees for our Tree Climbing Program are $200.00 for the first 10 participants and $15 for each additional participant.

Required forms for tree climbing include a Group Contract for Tree Climbing and a Waiver/Photo Release (Child and/or Adult).

Ranger-Led Programs

Sensory Awareness, Grades K–2

Using their five senses, both indoors and out, children will experience forest life. They will see and feel animal furs, identify animals by their sound, smell “sniff jars” containing surprising scents, and taste a part of the forest itself. The program includes a short ranger-led hike on our nature trail.

Program length: 1.5 hours
GPS Standards: SKCS1, SKCS2, SKCS5, SKP1, S1L1, S2E3

Rock Scientists, Grades K–2

This program gives students the opportunity to look at different types of soils and rock types with a magnifying glass and talk about the differences in texture, color, and shapes. We will talk about the three basic rock types, how they are made, and what type of rock Panola Mountain is made of.

Program length: 2 hours
GPS Standards: SKCS3, SKCS6, SKE2, S1CS1, S1CS3, S1CS5, S2CS1, S2CS3, S2CS5

Animal Antics, Grades K–2

What is an animal? Where can you find them? Students will learn about basic needs of animals and how animals change throughout life stages and match animals to their homes. They will make a model that shows an animal as a baby and as an adult to help them see how some animals change drastically over their lives. We will also explore how matter changes through the life cycle and decomposition.

Program Length: 2 hours
GPS Standards: SKCS4, SKL1, SKL2, S1L1, S1CS4, S2CS4, S2L1

Mysterious Monadnocks, Grades 3–4

Through indoor activities and a short hike, students will discover the fragile wonder that is a Monadnock ecosystem. We will examine several aspects of the mountain: from the geologic processes that made it 300 million years ago; through the erosion and weathering that brought Panola to the surface; to the unique habitat that covers it today. We will examine the rocks and minerals that are found on and around this “Mini Stone Mountain” and see what sets her apart, geologically and ecologically, from her sisters. This comparison will help students understand how actions of the past affect the future, and stress the importance of conservation.

Program Length: 2 hours
GPS Standards: S3E1, S3CS4, S3L1, S3L2, S4L1, S4CS4

Habitat Dynamics, Grades 3–4

Students will explore what a habitat is and how different habitats create ecosystems. We will talk about how different ecosystems have different food webs. Making a diagram of a simple food web, students will see how changing food webs can have big effects. Finally we will take a short walk to look at how humans and pollution can alter habitats, ecosystems, and food webs in different ways.

Program Length: 2 hours
GPS Standards: S2CS6, S2CS7, S2E3, S2L1, S3CS4, S3CS7, S3CS8, S3L1, S3L2

Tree Canopy Ecology, Grades 4 & Up

Experience a rarely visited habitat as you conduct sampling studies in the forest canopy. Students will ascend into the canopy on ropes with certified Canopy-Adventure-Research-Educational Technical Tree Climbing (CARE TTC) Instructor(s) or Facilitator(s). They will collect and identify insects or vegetation found in the tree canopy, and discuss how scientists use the same techniques in the rainforest. Adaptive climbing systems are available so that everyone, regardless of ability, can participate.

Program Length: 3 Hours
Fee: $20/person. Group size limited.
GPS Standards: S4CS1, S4CS7, S4CS8, S4L2, S5CS3, S5CS8

Discover Panola Mountain, Grades 4 & Up

Discover what is unique about the granite outcrop ecosystem and why some of the plants that live there are endangered. On a 3-mile ranger-led mountain hike, students will observe plant and animal adaptations, study life in the solution pits and learn how the mountain was formed. They will also learn about current research that scientists are conducting at the park and discuss human impacts on this fragile environment.

Program Length: 3 hours
GPS Standards: S4L1, S4L2, S5E1 b, S5L1, S6CS8, S7CS8, S7L1

Outcrop Ecology Study, Grades 4 & Up

Students will see different granite mountain environments and learn about the succession of plant communities that live there. Working in small groups they will conduct comparative studies of life in the solution pits—a unique habitat of the granite outcrop ecosystem. They will observe, measure and record physical characteristics as well as identify the plants living there.

Program Length: 2 hours
GPS Standards: GPS: S4L1, S4L2, S5E1, S5L1, S6CS4, S7L4

Georgia Wildlife Encounters, Grades 4 & Up

Compare two classes of animals (such as mammals and reptiles) and learn what characteristics determine their classification, In this live animal presentation students will learn what role each animal plays in our environment, how they are adapted to survive and why they are important to us. If time allows, this class concludes with a walk through the forest to look at different habitats.

Program Length: 2 hours
GPS Standards: S4L1, S4L2, S5L1, S7L5

Stream Ecology Study, Grades 4 & Up

Students will explore a natural stream that flows through the park. Working in small groups they will learn Adopt-A-Stream techniques to collect and identify aquatic life in both the stream and a nearby pond. They will record and compare physical characteristics of both and determine what these creatures tell us about the water quality. Students will also learn about water studies scientists are conducting in the park. Bring shoes that can get wet.

Program Length: 2 hours
GPS Standards: S4L1, S4L2, S5L1, S5L2, S6E3, S7L4

Land Lottery, Grades 6–8

Step back in time as we experience firsthand how Georgia was divided and colonized in the 1800s. Students will use algebra and geometry in a real-world setting as they map their own land plots and enter the lottery to see who will purchase and who will perish.

Program Length: 2 hours
Group size limited.
GPS Standards: MGSE6.NS.2, MGSE6.EE.1,  MGSE6.EE.2 , MGSE6.EE.5, MGSE6.EE.6, MGSE6.G.1, MGSE6.G.3, SS8E1, SS8E3, SS8H5