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Pond site project aims to enhance education

  • Published
  • By Mr. Pelham Myers Jr.
  • 169th Civil Engineer Squadron
The shelter at the pond site is currently undergoing a much needed facelift by CE personnel, led by the Natural Resource Manager, Clifton McKinney, who has been in that position for the last six years. Although much will be done over the next few years, the building has already received a new metal roof to help protect it from the hot summers and cold winters of the south.

"Upon completion, the new and improved Environmental Education Center is expected to be a place where education will be its primary goal," said McKinney. "A few years ago, some students on a field trip expressed concern over the cutting of trees, and I had to explain how this would ultimately help the local environment. I want them to have a place to go on base where they can be educated on how controlling our natural resources can also be helpful in creating a safer environment for our personnel."

This restoration project at the pond site began this spring and is expected to last for the next several years. It is projected to house static displays, and be the venue for scouting and Earth Day festivities.

The renovation was initiated when Missy Mertz, who manages the Natural Resource funds at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, came to visit in 2012.

McKinney said, "During Missy's visit, we took her to the Congaree Swamp National Park here, and she was so inspired by their Welcome Center facility, which was also primarily constructed by CE personnel, that she envisioned the possibilities of using our Pond Site building for a similar purpose."

Although progress at the pond site is expected to be slow, McKinney has many ideas of what the area could look like in years to come. "I envision using much of the timber on base to build a deck which leads over the pond, as well as a nature trail, however all of this depends on future availability of funding," he said.

To date, CE personnel has put approximately 150 man-hours into the current renovation, and will continue to do more as funding dictates. McKinney considers these hours, not only beneficial in getting the job done, but also in providing an excellent opportunity for team-building among state employees.

The cost of the project is estimated at approximately $50,000, and is being funded through NGB's Natural Resource program.

"We would love to invite Missy back in a few years to show her how we're putting the money to good use," said McKinney. "Our desire is that we will then be able to obtain additional funding to make the Pond Site an Environmental Educational Center that all of us can be proud of."