Achieving initial Corporate Lands for Learning certification in 2013, Eastman’s Texas Operations’ longstanding environmental education program provides site-based outdoor learning opportunities to numerous groups throughout both Gregg and Harrison Counties and beyond. Partnering with environmental entities such as Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the education program reaches hundreds of students and informal learners each year.
“We are honored to receive this award for our conservation education programs,” said Mark Bogle, vice president and general manager, Eastman’s Texas Operations. “Our Nature Trail and Demonstration Forest programs have enhanced our ability to connect with the community and the education process to promote Eastman’s commitment to environmental stewardship.”
Mainstays of the program are the Forest Awareness Tours, which are half- to full-day events that utilize both Eastman’s 0.6 mile nature trail and its nearly 40-acre “Demonstration Forest” to highlight its wildlife habitat enhancement projects. During these tours, elementary to high school-age students explore the site and visit several interactive learning stations, covering topics such as forestry, bees, birds, soil and water. Employee volunteers work alongside local experts to ensure a great experience.
Eastman’s Corporate Lands for Learning program also promotes education to group leaders by hosting annual Project Learning Tree® training events in which local teachers, Education majors and employees are encouraged to attend. This workshop introduces educators to various activities that utilize the on-site trail as an outdoor classroom and provides them with the necessary lesson plans and other materials to effectively conduct these activities with their own students.
“Eastman Chemical Company is being recognized as an industry leader in corporate conservation,” said Margaret O’Gorman, WHC president. “It is a model for how we at the Wildlife Habitat Council connect corporations and communities to create habitat and increase biodiversity on corporate properties for the benefit of all. Through its certification programs of private lands owned by the corporate sector, WHC has set the standard for conservation programs on privately held land for more than 25 years.”