Interpretive Programs at Panola Mountain State Park

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Ranger-Led Programs

Ranger-led school programs can be scheduled at Panola Mountain State Park. All programs are based on Georgia’s current performance standards. The cost of the programs varies depending on program length. Please call 770-389-7801 or email pm.naturalist@gmail.com for more information or to schedule a ranger-led program.

Sensory Awareness, Grades Pre-K and Kindergarten
Using their five senses, both indoor and out, children will experience forest life. They will see and feel animal furs, identify animals by their sound, small “sniff jars” containing surprising scents, and taste part of the forest itself. The program includes a short ranger-led hike on our nature trail.
Program length: 60 minutes
Program cost: $5/student
GPS: SKCS1, SKCS2, SKCS5, SKP1

Animal Antics, Grades Kindergarten and 1st
What is an animal? Where can you find them? Students will learn about the different types of animals and their unique characteristics through up close encounters with both live and taxidermy animals.
Program length: 60 minutes
Program cost: $5/student
GPS: SKL2, S1L1

Grow as We Grow, 1st and 2nd Grades
Students will explore life cycles from different living organisms by playing interactive games and crafts. Students will understand the difference between complete and incomplete metamorphosis by the end of the program.
Program length: 2 hours
Program cost: $8/student
GPS: S1L1, S2L1

Habitat Dynamics, 3rd and 4th Grades
Students will explore what a habitat is and how different habitats create ecosystems. We will talk about how different ecosystems have different food webs, the relationship between predator and prey, and how different animals have special adaptations that help them thrive in their habitat. This program includes a short ranger-led hike on our nature trail.
Program length: 2 hours
Program Cost: $8/student
GPS: S3L1, S3L2, S4L1

Mysterious Monadnocks, 3rd and 5th Grades
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 geological process that made it 300 million years ago; through the erosion and weathering that brought Panola to 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
Program cost: $8/student
GPS: S3E1, S3CS4, S3L1, S3L2, S5E1

Stream Ecology, 4th and 5th Grades
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. They will record and compare physical characteristics and determine what these creatures tell us about the water quality. Students will also get an opportunity to utilize a microscope. Bring shoes that can get wet.
Program length: 2 hours
Program cost: $8/student
GPS: S4L1, S4L2, S5L1, S5L2

Discover Panola Mountain, Grades 4th and up
Discover what is unique about the granite outcrop ecosystem and why some plants that live there are endangered. On a 3-mile ranger-led mountain hike, students will observe plant and animal adaptations, study life in solution pits, and learn how the mountain was formed. They will also learn about current research that scientists are conducting on the park and discuss human impacts on the fragile environment.
Program length: 3 hours
Program cost: $8/student (group size limited)
GPS: S4L1, S4L2, S5E1, S6CS8, S7L1

Tree Canopy Ecology, Grades 4th and 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) instructors/facilitators. 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: 2 hours
Program cost $20/student (group size limited)
GPS: S4CS1, S4SC7, S4SC8, S4L2, S5CS3, S5CS8

Ranger-Led FAQ:
Q: What comes included with the program cost?
A: For each ranger-led program that is booked, educators will be provided with a pre and post-visit activity workbook that aligns to their specific topic that they can utilize in the classroom to supplement the program that they will receive at Panola Mountain State Park. Additionally, groups will be provided with a picnic shelter at no additional cost ($70 value) for lunch or snacks.

Q: Do you offer a discount to Title 1 schools?
A: Yes. For schools that can provide proof of their Title 1 status, we will take off $1.00 per student from the program fee.

Q: How do these programs relate to what I am teaching?
A: Each of these programs were designed to align specifically around the grade-specific standards outlined by Georgia’s Standards of Excellence.

Q: Is there a cost or limit for chaperones?
A: There is no limit for the number of chaperones that can come on a ranger-led program. Any chaperone who drives a personal vehicle must have a ParkPass tag displayed in their vehicle. Cost for a ParkPass is $5 per vehicle.

Q: How early in advance do I need to book our program?
A: We require at least a two-week notice to book any ranger-led programs. In order to book your ranger-led program either call the Nature Center at 770-389-7801 or email pm.naturalist@gmail.com

Ranger-Led Additional Information

  • Educators and group leaders must fill out and submit an Educational Request Form Group Contract
  • Educators and group leaders will be responsible for the behavior of their students at all times.
  • Groups larger than 4 classes will need to be broken up amongst multiple days.
  • Please be on time for your scheduled program. If running late, call to let us know. We try to keep to 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 indoors as well as outdoors in misty rain or cold weather, so please have your students dress accordingly.
  • If you have any questions regarding ranger-led program reservations, please call the Nature Center at 770-389-7801.

Outreach Programs

If you can’t make the trip to the park, we will bring a little piece of the park to you. Outreach programs can be scheduled within a 20-mile radius of the park. The cost is $150.00 per program for a group (maximum 30 students). Programs are 60 minutes in length. The following outreach programs are available. Please either call 770-389-7801 or email pm.naturalist@gmail.com for more information or to schedule an outreach program.

Owl Pellet Dissection
A park ranger will bring supplies including: owl pellets (1 pellet is good for 2 students), a bone identification chart, and tools to dissect the owl pellet. 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 get to 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 snake. After the program, students will get a chance to interact with real live native Georgia snakes.


Self-Guided Explorations

Educators and group leaders have the opportunity to experience Panola Mountain on a self-guided basis. Panola Mountain offers two different public nature trails, plus a Nature Center that has geology displays, live and static animal displays, and information about the park. Parking is free for official school vehicles (school bus, van, etc.). Any personal vehicle must display a valid ParkPass. Parking fees for self-guided explorations are:

  • $5.00 for vehicles with less than 13 passengers
  • $30.00 for vehicles with 13-30 passengers
  • $70.00 for vehicles that can hold 30 or more passengers