Help the Magic City School Bus Program connect Birmingham kids with nature


Students at Glen Iris Elementary School. Photo by Nathan Watson for Bham Now

The distance between Glen Iris Elementary School and the Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham-Southern College is only 4.2 miles.

Despite its close proximity, the cost of taking a field trip to the highly acclaimed center is beyond the means of most of the Glen Iris families, meaning that this valuable STEAM resource might as well be a 1000 miles away.

Cannot Afford the Bus

Glen Iris Elementary School Garden. Photo by Nathan Watson for Bham Now

According to Glen Iris teacher Katie Watkins, her students have been unable to visit the Southern Environmental Center because they cannot afford transportation costs or even the minimal entrance fee.

“Some folks might think a $20 cost to cover transportation and program costs is normal, but this is very much out of reach for our kids’ families.”

Magic City School Bus Program

Students at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve by their “Magic City School bus. Photo courtesy of Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham-Southern College

While Glen Iris doesn’t fall into the category of ‘‘persistently low achieving” schools, other Birmingham schools do.

All of these schools have underserved populations, resulting in Birmingham also having more Title 1 schools than any other system in our State.

Ironically, some of the best science, technology, engineering, arts & math (STEAM) teaching tools are located a short distance from these schools. The Southern Environmental Center’s Interactive Museum, Ecoscape Gardens, & GeoDome facilities on BSC’s campus and the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson provide unique educational settings that can bolster interest in science.

Students at the Southern Environmental Center

In order to give these high potential, underserved children the same opportunities as their counterparts in well funded systems, the Center has launched the Magic City School Bus Program.

Sponsor 50 School Buses & Ecofest

Birmingham Alabama
Ecoscape at Birmingham Southern College – Photo by Pat Byington

The Southern Environmental Center’s goal for 2020:  attract individuals and companies to sponsor 50 buses (1 bus is a field trip) for as little as $300 per field trip.

The Magic City School Bus program is also the focus of the upcoming 2019 Ecofest Market and Auction on Thursday, November 7, 5-8PM at the Theodore.

Mayor Randall Woodfin (invited) will serve as Master of Ceremonies for what promises to be an unforgettable evening.

Be a part of one of the most original and magical events in our area by purchasing a ticket – – HERE.

Can’t make it? Help make a positive change for our schools, by sponsoring a Magic City School Bus – HERE

Glen Iris students. Photo by Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Why the Magic City School Bus Program Matters

Everyday, Katie Watkins and her students at Glen Iris Elementary School learn about sustainability and the impact they have on the environment. The school even has an award winning on-site garden program that has been in operation for seven years.

“We haven’t been to the Southern Environmental Center. Our class does a lot of work on sustainability and reducing environmental impact, and learning about their family’s effects on the environment. So I was looking for a field trip that would culminate all of our learning. Through the Magic City School Bus Program, we are very appreciative of the opportunity to be able to see and experience such a unique place.”

Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round – Ecofest on November 7th

On a recent visit to Glen Iris Elementary School by Bham Now, the students summed up their excitement about the possibility of visiting the Southern Environmental Center with the chorus of: “The Wheels on the bus go round and round – round and round!”

Make their field trip dreams come true. Sponsor a bus today and attend Ecofest on November 7th.

See you there!

Sponsored By:

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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