Environmental Programs


NGC Environmental School 

The mission of the Environmental  Schools is to teach environmental literacy to cherish, protect and conserve the living earth. The courses teach participants environmental literacy, appreciation of the natural world, encourages action for sustainable development and appreciation for the interrelation of all natural things. Particular emphasis is presently placed on land conservation, water conservation and air quality. Environmental Studies School is aimed at producing a citizenry that is knowledgeable concerning the biophysical environment and its associated problems, aware of how to help solve these problems, and motivated to work toward their solution.

Contact: Karen Allen     [email protected]    864-979-9562


NGC Landscape Design School

The curriculum, in a series of four courses, covers a wide range of subjects: from landscape design history to landscape architecture in the year 2000 and beyond. Since its founding in 1958, professional instructors have maintained the high standards originally incorporated in the study program. Also offered are many optional programs, such as conferences, symposia and tours. Students acquire the tools for making their own gardens more beautiful and easier to maintain. Many students have been motivated to serve in political decision-making areas where awareness of the impact of a well-designed landscape can enhance the beauty and enjoyment of life in the public arena.


Course 3 November 12-13, 2024  Charles Towne Landing  Charleston, SC

Contact: Paul Gilson         [email protected]          609-405-1249



8 Benefits of Bird Watching

Bird watching is a time-honored tradition that many people enjoy today. Don’t worry, you don’t need any special equipment to go bird watching, and you certainly don’t need to travel to exotic locations. Simply sitting in your backyard and watching the birds local to your area is all it takes to engage in the hobby. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should take up this fascinating hobby here are 8 benefits of bird watching that should help you make your decision.

Bird watching develops patience

Bird watching isn’t a hobby for those who aren’t accustomed to waiting. You can’t expect birds to simply be out and about at all times of the day. Bird watching requires study as you learn the locations of nesting areas.

Then, of course, you have to travel to the area and take up position (sometimes for hours) as you wait to see if the bird will show itself. You’ll likely find that if you develop the patience required for bird watching, you’ll begin to develop patience for other things in your life as well.

Bird watching will get your children to go outside

It’s no great secret the children of this generation are addicted to their tablets and game consoles and as a result rarely go outside to play and simply enjoy nature. Taking your children bird watching is a great way to get them outside, and the best part is that it doesn’t take much effort on your part – start in your backyard and watch the birds local to the area. Soon enough your kids will be begging to go outside more often!

Bird watching allows for contemplation

Bird watching is a quiet yet meditative experience. Watchers often spend long periods alone, in the quiet (to not scare off the birds). Sitting, watching and waiting allows for plenty of time to think about life.

Bird watching also provides an opportunity for you to clear your mind and simply live in the moment. You’ll learn to appreciate the fleeting moments in life (you may only catch a brief glance at the bird you’ve so patiently been waiting for) and truly give thought to the many things going on in your life.

Bird watching can improve cardiovascular health

From the surface, you would never think that bird watching had anything to do with cardiovascular health. However, bird watchers are used to hiking for miles on end to engage in their hobby. Many bird species often nest in places where humans can’t easily travel.

That means if you wish to take a picture of them or simply view them in their natural habitat than you’ll have to put on your hiking boots and travel to where they are. Bird watchers often push themselves for the sake of the challenge and search for species that exist on high up mountains and cliffs. All of that hiking can greatly improve cardiovascular health, especially if you do it on a regular basis.

Bird watching gives you an excuse to travel

We probably all have that one friend with aspirations of traveling the world. However, when asked why they haven’t traveled anywhere yet the answer tends to be “just because.” Thankfully, bird watchers always have a reason to travel.

With millions of bird species to track across the globe, there’s no end to the adventures you can have. Bird watchers tend to be travel enthusiasts who enjoy mountain climbing, island hopping, and much more. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to travel than taking up bird watching may be the best course of action for you.

Bird watching builds a sense of community

There’s certainly nothing wrong with going on a bird watching expedition alone, but there’s something magical about bird watching in a group. Bird watchers have a strong sense of community, often deriving pleasure from swapping stories with one another and sharing vital information on where to spot certain species of bird.

Engaging in a community of like-minded individuals is great for your social life and can lead to lifelong friends.

Bird watching quickens reflexes

Bird watchers have to be ready at a moment’s notice, or all of the hours they poured into the day’s activities may be wasted. Seizing the moment is a trait that all bird watchers learn. Four hours of patience can turn into twenty seconds of flurried activity as a bird returns to its nest – if you’re too slow you’ll miss out on the show.

Always being in a constant state of readiness often quickens the reflexes which may come in handy in other situations outside of bird watching.

Bird watching develops an appreciation for nature

Bird watchers are used to sitting in one location for hours at a time to catch a glimpse of a particular bird. During that time bird watchers are able to soak up their surroundings – admiring the plant life, breathing in the crisp air, and watching other animals.

Hopefully, you’ll begin to admire nature for its beauty which makes the entire effort worth your time when you finally catch of a glimpse of the bird you’ve been so patiently waiting for.

Final thoughts

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the time to go bird watching you can still enjoy viewing the behavior patterns of birds by investing in a security camera. Security cameras can run all day and all night and can be the best option to spot bird behaviors when you’re too short on time to get outdoors and view them yourself.

As you can see, bird watching can be a therapeutic, relaxing and rewarding experience that comes with a wide range of benefits. Whether you’re looking to connect your children closer to nature or simply wish to take up a new hobby, bird watching may be the right choice for you.

Featured Image Credit: Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons

In Post Image Credit: PublicDomainImages / Pixabay

Plant a bird-friendly garden today!

Creating habitats where birds can find nourishment and protection is ideal for the birds and rewarding for the humans.

  1. Provide region-appropriate habitat for the benefit of birds and wildlife. Native gardens can be easier and less expensive to maintain.
  2. Plant native species, which are adapted to your particular climate and thus don’t need extra water. Throw away (responsibly) the pesticides and herbicides. Rid your yard and neighborhood of invasive plant species.   upstateforever.orghas good articles on the WHY, HOW and WHERE.
  3. Search for certified organic gardening products here.
  4. Create a brush pile of clippings, branches, and yard debris in a hidden corner of your yard, out of the wind. Birds will forage and hide in the pile.efore cutting down a tree (or other vegetation), think about who might call that tree home, or use it as a place to rest. Leave a snag for wildlife! And if a tree truly must come down, take it down outside of nesting season.

Enjoy your birds!

Environmental Stewardship

The members of the Greenville Council of Garden Clubs were “green before it was chic”.  Caring for our environment is our high priority to us at home, in our community as a whole, and at our headquarters location.

In the Spring, we are especially proud to see the results of a two year effort to further enhance our seasonal gardens with the addition of hundreds of daffodils, planted by our members to honor or remember a loved one.

We work hard to keep the pond at Kilgore-Lewis both beautiful and healthy for the creatures who take advantage of our certified natural backyard habitat.  Using non-chemical means of removing pollution, we enjoy watching such diverse creatures as turtles and a great blue heron use it.

Our Council encourages all of our club members to provide “homes” for birds and wildlife by having their own yards certified as backyard wildlife habitats, and we are proud that some clubs have over 70% participation in this activity.

Our “dumpster” area contains marked recycle bins, which we encourage our guests and renters to use as we do.

Our Grounds Chairperson directs our volunteers in careful use of our natural resources, encouraging the culture of native plants which are drought-tolerant and will thrive in the conditions that exist in this area without wasting water to maintain them.

We began our own composting site several years ago, and it continues to be used and to serve as an educational project for adults and school-age gardeners.

Every one of our 18 garden clubs adopts special projects to add to the beauty of our community in a way that is respectful of the environment.  From gardening activities in schools and assisted living locations to maintaining gardens at community entrances and downtown buildings, members of GCGC put their time, energy and money into making Greenville ever more naturally beautiful in an environmentally responsible way.