SGSC, Okefenokee Swamp Park announce new partnership

South Georgia State College (SGSC) and the Okefenokee Swamp Park (OSP) are now official partners in education.  The organizations recently signed a “Statement of Strategic Alliance” formally announcing the partnership.


“It is becoming more evident that partnerships are win-win’s for institutions of higher education and the communities they serve,” said Dr. Virginia Carson, SGSC president.  “I’m excited to know that our students and faculty will have hands-on access to such an amazing natural resource as the Okefenokee Swamp as a result of this partnership.”

SGSC science faculty in particular will be able to utilize the Park’s resources as an outdoor laboratory, further enhancing the classroom experience of SGSC students.  Carson said having access to an ecological site such as the Okefenokee Swamp reinforces the College’s mission “to create a diverse, globally-focused, and supportive learning environment.”

Dr. William Clark, chairman of the OSP’s Board of Trustees, is also excited about the partnership.  He said it will further strengthen the Park’s efforts to bring educational resources to the world through technology.

“Our board and our partners are committed to improving the ways we present the wonders of the Okefenokee to students of all ages everywhere in the world,” said Clark.  “By next spring, our new fiber optic internet connection will be complete with two fully interactive classrooms capable of broadcasting an incredible amount of information.  We look forward to bringing forward the full potential of our partnership with SGSC.”

South Georgia State College was created by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia on January 8, 2013.  The institution includes campuses in Douglas and Waycross, entry programs through Georgia Southwestern State University (Americus) and Valdosta State University, and ACCEL programs in partnership with area high schools.  While SGSC’s main service area encompasses 15 counties in southern Georgia, the College serves students from 109 Georgia counties, 28 states, and 10 countries.

The Okefenokee Swamp Park opened its doors on October 8, 1946 as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that has attracted visitors from around the world.  Its mission is “to promote ecological tourism and education by providing a convenient point of entry into the Okefenokee offering an authentic opportunity for learning about wildlife, culture and natural beauty of the ‘Land of the Trembling Earth.’”


PHOTO CAPTION: South Georgia State College administration and faculty gathered with members of the Okefenokee Swamp Park’s Board of Trustees to formally announce a new educational partnership between the two organizations.  Seated (L-R): SGSC President Dr. Virginia Carson and Dr. William Clark, chairman of the OSP’s Board of Trustees.  First row standing (L-R): Martin Bell, OSP general manager; Dr. Linda Zechmann, OSP board member; Walda Kight, SGSC vice president for external affairs; Dr. Patricia Brown, SGSC interim vice president for academic affairs; Sara Selby, SGSC interim director of institutional effectiveness; Dr. Rosa Guedes, SGSC assistant professor of biology/ecology; and Dr. Pam Jackson, OSP board member.  Second row (L-R): Dr. Ken Calamia, OSP board member; Dr. Molly Smith, SGSC professor of biology; Bernard Majdi, SGSC associate professor of chemistry/biology; Dr. Gaylon Cook, SGSC associate professor of biology; Dr. Charles Johnson, SGSC professor of physics and chair of the Division of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Physical Education; and Chip Beal, OSP board member.  Third row (L-R): Keith Newell, SGSC vice president for operations; and Harbin Farr, SGSC director of facilities.