Jerry Hightower

Jerry Hightower grew up in what is now Sandy Springs.  The abundant fields, forests, streams, and the Chattahoochee River were his best classrooms.   This lead to a life of service to others and the natural world upon which all life depends.  After returning from Vietnam and still a sergeant in the Military Police, he began volunteering with the major conservation organizations, university professors, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  Jerry is known as one of the original “River Rats”, the group that began the effort to save the Chattahoochee River.  After military service, Jerry began working toward a career as a high school biology and American history teacher.  However, the extensive background he had gained as a volunteer activist, field researcher, and environmental educator lead him to a position with the National Park Service at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.  Jerry has 50 plus years as an environmental educator and has 43 years of service to the US.

As a naturalist and environmental educator shares this joy through educator training and gardening for wildlife workshops throughout the southeast.  He works with dozens of agencies and organizations and thousands of schools.  Volunteering with the Georgia and National Wildlife Federations, Jerry pioneered the Wildlife Habitat Certification Program in Georgia and initiated the effort to create Wildlife Habitats as learning centers at schools.  Spearheading the environmental education efforts in Georgia schools with the Georgia PTA, Jerry and fellow educator, Petey Giroux developed and implemented the first statewide environmental education program adopted by the organization.  As a result of these efforts, students, not only in Georgia, but also in Birmingham, Chattanooga, Memphis, and throughout the southeast can experience the joys of learning in outdoor wildlife discovery areas.  This success has been featured in national publications and Georgia Public Broadcasting.  Georgia is the leading state in the nation for schools certified with the National Wildlife Federation.