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mcdowell environmental center

McDowell Environmental Center Overview

Since 1994.

  • Our mission is to connect people to their environment, teach respect for the Earth
  • and its beings, and to promote a commitment to lifelong learning.
  • The McDowell Environmental Center (MEC) is a unique learning experience for thousands of students and teachers throughout the region every year. More than a walk a woods, this non-sectarian program welcomes all students regardless of race, religion, or gender. Many classes can be adapted to accommodate individuals with special needs. Schools typically come for three days and two nights to learn knowledge and skills from excellent instructors that are impossible to find in a classroom.
  • The MEC’s program goals are to:
  • • Increase awareness and understanding of the environment.
  • • Encourage a sense of responsibility for the environment.
  • • Foster cooperation and the idea of community.

Instruction and activities take place outside, among forests, canyons, and streams, where students can see and feel exactly what they are being taught. Respect for the environment, recycling fundamentals, team building, confidence enrichment, and zero-waste concepts are only some of the life-skills students are empowered with upon leaving.

  • The program sessions are in-line with the state educational curriculum of Alabama and some surrounding states. Teachers receive continuing education credit for their time in the program. We believe we have something special and want to share it with you!

We invite you to explore the links above to learn more about our unique program.

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Outdoor Classroom

Not all classrooms have four walls.

Our classes take place outdoors in variable weather conditions, so students and chaperones should prepare to spend three-hour blocks outside. Camp McDowell encompasses 1,140 acres of diverse forests, meadows, streams and canyons. This landscape is an incredible natural resource that serves as our classroom, rain or shine. Choose the path that is best for your students. Challenge them on our high ropes, study geology in a sandstone canyon, or nature journal next to the softly flowing waters of Clear Creek!

"I think everybody should come. . . it's just the experience that you get when you're outdoors learning; it's that feeling of making a new friend." -Jon (student from Vestavia)