by Michele Johnson
Thanks to a private gift, visitors to the UGA Marine Extension Service will soon have an outdoor pavilion where they can gather when visiting the Marine Education Center and Aquarium.
Springer Mountain Farms and company president Gus Arrendale, a UGA alumnus, made the $25,000 gift that will be used to buy materials for the facility. The Barn Builders, a volunteer group of residents who live near the island, will construct the pavilion free of charge.
“I am proud to be able to give back to my alma mater with this pavilion. I think it will help facilitate learning and the enjoyment of the unique outdoor environment in which only Georgia has to offer,” said Gus Arrendale, president of Springer Mountain Farms. “From the peak of Springer Mountain to the Georgia coast, protecting the environment is high on our list of priorities here at Springer Mountain Farms.”
More than 25,000 people, including school groups, summer campers and tourists, visit the UGA Aquarium each year to learn about the beautiful Georgia coast. The pavilion will provide an outdoor place for visitors to gather rain or shine.
“Visitors, especially school groups, have been asking for a place to eat for years,” said Anne Lindsay, associate director for marine education at the UGA Marine Extension Service and Georgia Sea Grant, units of the Office of Public Service and Outreach. “We have never had a place where student groups could gather on their own and out of rainy and windy weather.”
The 1,000-square-feet pavilion will be located near the beginning of the Jay Wolf Nature Trail that runs along the Skidaway River, and will include water, lights, ceiling fans and large sturdy picnic tables that will seat about 50 people.
“The pavilion will allow folks to stay on campus just a little longer and will add to the convenience of the site as a field trip destination,” Lindsay said.
The Barn Builders have done volunteer work at the UGA Aquarium for about five years, constructing lean-to sheds, fences and gates, shelving, picnic tables, information kiosks and much more.
“Whatever project they come up with, we’ll try to tackle it,” said Lars Ljungdahl, a Barn Builders volunteer. “At our age, retired as we are, we have the time. We like to give back.”
The project should be completed by this fall.
Based in Mt Airy, Ga., Springer Mountain Farms is a family owned company that produces chickens raised on a pesticide-free, vegetarian diet without the use of antibiotics, steroids, growth stimulants or hormones. Springer Mountain Farms was the first poultry producer in the world to gain the endorsement of the American Humane Association under its American Human Certified program. Its chickens are supplied to grocery stores, restaurants and chefs across the country and around the world.