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Education Programs at Wylde Center – Overview and Impact

Wylde Center Education Programs

Wylde Center's education programs are a cornerstone of our mission. They develop skills in environmental science, sustainable living, organic gardening, health, and nutrition. It is our priority to make our education opportunities accessible to all communities - including those that are historically underserved. This inclusive programming fosters a sense of caring and connection, promotes food equity, and lays an important foundation for the next generation of environmental stewards and informed citizens. Our education opportunities are accessible and abundant, culminating in over 20,000 participant interactions each year.

Wylde Center currently leads one of the largest youth environmental and science
education programs. These programs include Farm to School and STEM based programs in the Atlanta and Decatur public schools; after school programs at the Decatur Housing Authority (DHA) and at our Edgewood Garden in Atlanta; and field trips to our five sites that are linked to Common Core standards and promote equitable access to the environment, nature, and fresh produce.

The benefits of Wylde Center’s educational programs include:

  • Access to outdoor learning: Numerous studies confirm that nature-based learning boosts academic performance, improves social and emotional growth, increases focus and reduces anxiety. Unfortunately, many schools lack the financial resources to implement environmental education or venture off campus for outdoor learning.  By making our programs available at little to no cost, Wylde Center ensures that all students, regardless of socio-economic conditions, can reap the benefits of outdoor education. In 2022-23, 70% of our program activities were offered for free.
  • Food equity: 1 in 7 children in Atlanta today are food-insecure. This disproportionately affects low income families and communities of color, resulting in negative health outcomes. Wylde Center empowers neighborhoods and schools with community gardens where they can grow their own fruits and vegetables. Children in our programs gain access to fresh foods and learn to enjoy them through engaging activities and cooking. They learn to make healthy food choices, priming them for a lifetime of healthy eating.
  • Environmental stewardship: In Wylde Center’s programs, students learn about ecology, conservation, and sustainability. Students take away a deeper appreciation for the world around them, and an understanding of their role in protecting it. Wylde Center equips students with the knowledge, skills and awareness required to become environmental stewards who will tackle the complex problems facing our planet.

Farm to School Partner Schools

The following City of Decatur and Atlanta schools currently participate in the Farm to School program:

  • City Schools of Decatur
  • College Heights Early Learning Childhood Center
  • The Frazier Center at Decatur High School
  • Oakhurst Elementary
  • Clairemont Elementary
  • Glennwood Elementary
  • Winnona Park Elementary School
  • Westchester Elementary
  • Renfroe Middle School
  • 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue
  • Atlanta Public Schools
  • Whitefoord Elementary
  • Benteen Elementary

Programs at Wylde Center include

Wylde Center’s extensive environmental education program is the cornerstone of our mission. We provide in-school learning, after school programs, and field trips that bring students from across Atlanta to Wylde Center gardens. 73% of our education programs are offered at no cost, to ensure we reach low income communities where children lack access to greenspace and fresh foods. We currently work in six Title 1 schools where students experience poverty and food insecurity.

Program Goals:

  • Ensure equitable access to fresh foods for youth across Atlanta
  • Introduce young people to locally grown produce and healthy eating
  • Provide children with outdoor, experiential learning opportunities
  • Support teachers in delivering environmental science curriculum
  • Support schools and communities in practices of gardening and composting
  • Foster connections to nature to inspire life-long learning and environmental stewardship

We work towards these goals through the following program activities:

In-school learning:  Each year, we deliver in-school programs to 20+ schools in City Schools of Decatur and Atlanta Public Schools districts. Wylde Center meets students in their classrooms and school gardens for experiential learning linked to the common core curriculum. We work closely with teachers to design age-appropriate lessons that reinforce school subjects and inspire deeper engagement with environmental science. For schools seeking in-depth partnership, we offer Farm to School programming, which focuses on connecting children with the source of their food. Wylde Center educators work year-round in schools to build a culture of healthy eating. They teach lessons in growing and preparing fresh foods; exploring the ecology of food; and connecting food to culture and community.

Wylde Center’s programs empower students and teachers alike with educational resources like environmental science lessons, sustainable on-site garden beds, recipes for the school cafeteria, and taste tests to introduce children to eating fresh, local produce. Most of the students we serve reside in food deserts, defined as low-income areas where families lack access to vehicles and are more than ½ mile from a supermarket. As such, Wylde Center programs provide critical exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables, which has a transformative effect on student attitudes about healthy eating. In our taste tests with students, 78% reported a positive response to eating new fresh foods, like turning spinach into pesto, salad or smoothies.

After school programming: Wylde Center offers a free after school Garden Club that teaches young people the basics of gardening and the food web. Students plant and tend to beds, then have the chance to harvest vegetables that they can take home to share with family. Weekly classes take place at our Edgewood Community Learning Garden in Atlanta and at affordable housing units where we have partnerships to maintain on-site garden plots. Current partners are the Decatur Housing Authority and Amani Place (Edgewood, Atlanta).

Field trips: Held at Wylde Center greenspaces, school field trips encourage students to explore academic classroom content with a hands-on, experiential approach that inspires curiosity and reinforces learning. Wylde Center educators create a fully immersive outdoor learning experience based in environmental science concepts linked to each school’s core curriculum.  Students explore natural systems and learn about human impact on the natural world. Each year, 20+ schools from more than 10 school districts participate in Wylde Center field trips.