Take a moment to breathe. Find a relaxing place, a special place, that you can have a moment to yourself. Your special spot should be nearby and full of lush surroundings that are distanced from hustle and bustle of the city. The Blue Heron Nature Preserve is just that place: a 30-acre green space in the heart of Atlanta.

Blue Heron is a unique haven for nature in an urban environment. You can easily forget that the city is nearby as you wander through the trails and habitats of the Preserve. Blue Heron offers family education activities, health and wellness classes, summer and school break camps for your kids, art workshops, and more. The Preserve can be your place for serenity or activity without leaving the city.

Blue Heron began in 2000 when Nancy Jones, a local elementary school art teacher, grew concerned about the loss of green space in her neighborhood. Nancy took it upon herself to save the land her children treasured for after-school play and exploration. She worked with land developers to set aside the first parcel of Blue Heron–a 15-acre woodland habitat off Roswell Road. From there, she grew Blue Heron into a nonprofit with core values of conservation, education, and the arts. Nancy worked tirelessly with volunteers to create trails and acquire additional land so visitors could come to Blue Heron and experience serenity. She enforced the value of nature by taking action in her own backyard and sharing it with the community.

Before retiring in 2017, Nancy carved out a space for nature in her neighborhood and cultivated a creative work culture for the nonprofit staff. Blue Heron Education Director Amy Zvonar says, “Educators and the staff get to be inspired each day by the wonder of our natural surroundings in our urban Atlanta community.”

Education offerings are available throughout the year for adults, kids and families. Summer Day Camp, Second Saturday Safaris, Forest Bathing, and other activities are hosted at Blue Heron and focus on connecting with the natural world. , Public Programs Coordinator and Environmental Educator Lauren Reynolds oversees these offerings and says, “Blue Heron is an environment that provides support, feedback and collaboration…there is a feeling of creative freedom.”

Blue Heron would not be here today without the efforts of Nancy, the staff, and countless volunteers. However, volunteer coordination and maintenance of the Preserve is not an easy task, and Brooke Vacovsky, Project and Operations Manager, has helped the Preserve grow over the past two years. “Working for Blue Heron has taught me so much about myself and others, and has taught me what really makes life meaningful,” she says.

Nearly 20 years later, Blue Heron continues to protect and preserve the 30-acre green space that Nancy acquired over the years. The Preserve is nestled in North Buckhead, right off Roswell Road, and offers a community garden, an off-the-grid solar-powered research facility, beehives, soft walking trails, waterfalls, and more! The Blueway Trail Initiative was launched in 2017 to connect current and create new trails so you can enjoy a three-mile trail network right in the heart of Atlanta. The Blueway will take you through the four distinct habitats of Blue Heron: wetlands, woodlands, meadows and riparian.

Blue Heron just reached the 80% marker for the Blueway fundraising goal. Help finish the trails by donating at BHNP.org/donate. Learn more about the project and get construction updates at BHNP.org/blueway.