Bridge is a free after-school program operating for urban students who attend Dalewood Middle School in Chattanooga. The program connects students to local outdoor spaces and experiences, and many of our outings take place within the Tennessee River Gorge.
As a conservation organization, we recognize that if local students do not have access to local land, then it is not relevant to them, and they will never understand the importance of protecting it. One of our favorite quotes by Baba Dioum states, "In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught." We must teach students to love and respect our wild places. In doing so their lives will be enriched forever and perhaps they will grow up and make decisions that help society care for these special places.
Bridge Chattanooga would not be possible without the support of our Program Partners and Sponsors. To date, our supporters include The Lyndhurst Foundation, Archer Daniels Midland, WalMart, and more than 50 individual donors who contributed funds during Giving Tuesday 2015 and 2016.
To volunteer or become a Program Partner or Sponsor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our office at 423.266.0314.
Tennessee River Gorge Trust staff members Melissa Fitzpatrick and Clark Brewer meet with the students after school four days a week. Each day includes a new activity or place providing a new experience and perspective for our students, many of whom spend most of their days close to their urban neighborhoods.
Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for the outdoors to this position. She received her undergrad degree in Anthropology and her Masters in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Water Resources from Indiana University. She is an avid caver, climber and trail runner in her free time.
Clark is a co-founder and visionary of this program. He brings experience in serving programs that help youth reach their potential and understands our students and how they perceive the world. He grew up in the urban landscape of Chattanooga and brings a great ability to connect his experience with theirs, while encouraging them to try new things, communicate well, and build positive relationships. Clark is a songwriter/singer in his free time, and a father to his son all the time.
"Bridge provides youth with opportunities to get out of their comfort zones and explore Chattanooga and surrounding areas, while also challenging them to meet certain behavior expectations that are outlined explicitly at the beginning of each program session. Our hope is that students will learn new skills in our program environment and that these skills will transfer to the classroom, and begin to shift the school culture in a positive direction (e.g., positive communication and conflict resolution skills). In the long-term, we would love to expand and replicate the effort for other local schools in our area." - Sarah Quattrochi, past Associate Director of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust who is currently helping with the implementation of Bridge Chattanooga.
We do this work for the kids in memory of Ryan Jack Keller....
Staff members of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust met Ryan Keller in August 2016. Ryan and his friend, Clark Brewer, had a vision to implement a program that would work to connect middle school students to the outdoors as a vehicle for inspiration and education. Trust staff members quickly realized that this idea fit with a concept that the Tennessee River Gorge Trust had been working to implement by partnering with local nonprofit organizations. A partnership was born when we realized that our common goal was to help people connect to nature, appreciate it, and become inspired by it.
Ryan died on August 15, 2017. This loss stopped us in our tracks. However, after pausing and contemplating, we realized that we had a strong desire to move forward with our program for Dalewood Middle School. It's what Ryan would have wanted and it's what the kids still need. Shine on, Ryan! You will live in our hearts and we will share your deep love with others for years to come.