As about 60 children and adults looked on, the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant officially dedicated a covered pavilion at the UGA Skidaway Island campus on Wednesday, June 8th.
The pavilion was made possible by a gift from Gus Arrendale, III and Springer Mountain Farms, which paid for construction materials for the pavilion. Volunteers from The Landings residential community on Skidaway Island, who call themselves the Barn Builders, constructed the facility.
“I want to express deep gratitude to Gus Arrendale of Springer Mountain Farms,” Jennifer Frum, UGA vice president for public service and outreach, told the crowd. “His gift was really the catalyst that allowed us to complete the pavilion. I want you all to go home and eat either wild-caught Georgia shrimp or Springer Mountain Farms’ chicken.”
Frum also acknowledged the contribution of the Barn Builders, led by Lars Ljungdahl, who spoke at the ribbon cutting.
The celebration was part of a day of educational activities that drew nearly 300 people to the aquarium to celebrate World Oceans Day. Visitors were treated to a behind the scenes look at the aquarium, educational programs on reptiles and ocean preservation, and animal feedings. Guests who attended the pavilion dedication were admitted to the aquarium for free from 3 p.m. until closing.
The Springer Mountain Farms Pavilion, named for the company founded and run by Gus Arrendale III, has running water and electricity and provides a much-needed space for outdoor education.
Private funding is critical for further aquarium expansion, said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.
“It was the local community that really made this happen,” Risse said. “We hope the kids will get a chance to enjoy it. ”
Ruth Bartlett, UGA Alumni Association president, presented an additional gift to Marine Extension from Arrendale for Marine Extension. Bartlett is a long-time friend of Arrendale, who was not available to attend the ribbon cutting.
“The main thing is it helps all these children that come to the summer camps and throughout the school year,” Bartlett said. Gus “was really tickled about that.”
June 8 is designated by the United Nations as World Oceans Day to celebrate conservation of this important resource around the world.
Learn more about the UGA Aquarium at http://marex.uga.edu/aquarium.