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History of Sandy Creek Nature Center


1900s: There were several significant changes in the natural landscape in the early 1900’s. The land was home to a brick factory until the early 1920’s. In 1940, a new road left a vulnerable dead end in the property that became the site of extensive trash dumping. The land was logged and farmed through the mid-1970’s.

1972: A group of motivated Athens-area citizens enlisted the help of environmental philanthropist John Ripley Forbes to create a Nature Center in Athens.

1973: The group set the plan in motion to make Sandy Creek Nature Center a reality. The land was selected and secured later that year. What was then known as the Northeast Georgia Nature Center opened.

1977: The first building now known as the Fireside Classroom was completed.

1980: SCNC grew to 20,000 program participants.

1981: The board deeded the Nature Center to Clarke County, which assumed responsibility for its day-to-day operations and funding.

1985: Allen House was moved from Timothy Road to Sandy Creek Nature Center.

1986: Summer-Sandy Creek Day Camp began.

1990: The name of the Nature Center was officially changed to Sandy Creek Nature Center. Sandy Creek Greenway trail, now called Cook's Trail, connected the Nature Center to Sandy Creek Park.

1992: Walker Hall was built.

1998: The Environment, Natural Science, and Appropriate Technology (ENSAT) Interpretive Center was dedicated and opened for use.

2001: The program numbers expanded; over 700 children attended day camp, and over 15,000 people participated in general recreation activities.

2003: The center reported over 40,000 visitors including school children, and the North Oconee Greenway connection to Sandy Creek provided an added influx of joggers, hikers and other visitors.

2004: A second SPLOST initiative was passed for continued development of the ENSAT building including new exhibits and improved visitor services.  

2010: The expansion began and was completed in 2012.

2012: The newly named Education & Visitor Center was dedicated and officially opened in October.

2013: ADA Boardwalk connection from the parking lot to the pavilion was completed.

2015: Donation of $55,100 made to Athens-Clarke County and work began on the Managed Forest Project.

2015: Fundraising begins for backyard Playscape Project.

2016: ADA Trail is completed into a loop with $44,000 donation to ACC. The relationship between Sandy Creek Nature Center, Inc, and Athens-Clarke County Department of Leisure Services was formalized with a renewing Partnership Agreement.

2019: Fundraising goal for Nature Playscape met.

2019:  SPLOST proposal for Exhibit Upgrades accepted.

2019- Awarded grant from The Riverview Foundation for outside restroom upgrades.


2020- Fundraising for Brick Factory Interpretive area begins

2021: Construction of the Nature Playscape complete.

Want to learn more? Founder Suzanne Lindsay's "Brief History of Sandy Creek Nature Center" is a comprehensive history of the Nature Center.

Founding Members

Charles Aguar

Ben Chappell

Walt Cook

Mahalah Harrison

Dan Hope

Al Ike

Suzanne Lindsay

Robert Saveland

Don Scott

Alma Walker

Mary Lamar West

WALT Award Recipients

The Wisdom Action Leadership Trust Award is so named in honor of founder Walt Cook, who exemplifies these characteristics. This award recognizes special service & commitment to Sandy Creek Nature Center.


Katherine Edison



Alison Huff


Emily Carr


Maurice Snook



Scott Collins

Larry Dendy


Will Chamberlin

Margaret Davis

Suzanne Lindsay

Mark Ralston


Suzanne Lindsay


Lee Meinersmann

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