Founded in 2006, Fresh Air Family has grown to offer more than 400 outdoor activities to an outreach of more than 10,000 people. Programs include family outings, summer and holiday camps, school field trips, in-school programs, and fossil hunts, along with hiking, camping, canoeing, birding, star gazing, fossil hunting, orienteering, caving and searching for creatures great and small. 

We also offer Gross Out Camp (It's science but please don't tell the kids) and Prepared, Not Scared at a growing list of locations.

Fresh Air Family brings together a diversity of families — young and not-so-young, married, single, adults and children — along with highly trained experts as we explore the natural world.  

Verna Gates

Founder & Executive Director


Number: 205-540-6642

Verna founded the organization in 2006 to help families and children get back outside. A "Plant Nerd," she lteaches using the folklore stories about plants. A former journalist, she is recipient of a lifetime achievement award by the National Federation of Press Women for her work on the original crew that launched CNN and with TIME Magazine and Reuters International.

JaWanda McCleod


Managing Director


Number: 205-3352839

National Board-Certified Teacher with over 20 years of distinguished educational service in public and private schools. Her professional competencies center around researched-based teaching strategies in reading, math and social/emotional skill development for students with challenging needs. She has been instrumental in creating and implementing expert professional development training for teachers in literacy instruction and behavior management techniques. She believes in and promotes collaborative problem solving with colleagues, administrators and parents.

Amanda Clark

Education Director


Number: 205-777-1851

A passionate educator who started with FAF as an undergraduate, Amanda delights in teaching children. Today, she is the only African-American woman in the Southeast getting a Ph.D. in molecular wildlife ecology.

For more information on her research, visit: 


Charles Rose

North Alabama Coordinator


Number: (256) 381-2826

An excellent naturalist, Charles leads outings in NOrth Alabama. He is President of Shoals Environmental Alliance, a Shoals Audubon Society board member and active with Shoals Wildflower Society. An original member of the Muscle Shoals Horns, he has played with Elvis, John Lennon and Bob Dylan. He has a star in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

Fresh Air Family

P.O. Box 321038 Birmingham, AL 35232