As about 60 children and adults looked on, the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant officially dedicated a covered pavilion at the UGA Skidaway Island campus June 8.
The pavilion was made possible by a gift from Gus Arrendale III and Springer Mountain Farms, which paid for construction materials. 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,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach. “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 activities that drew more than 150 people to the aquarium for World Oceans Day. Visitors were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the aquarium, educational programs 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 Arrendale, 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 longtime friend of Arrendale, who was not available to attend the ribbon cutting.
“It helps children who come to the summer camps and throughout the school year,” Bartlett said. “Gus was really tickled about that.”