Progress, activities reasons to celebrate at South Fork

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published May 2, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 1, 2013 at 8:46 a.m.
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Don Culwell, program director at the South Fork Nature Center in Clinton, leads a guided tour for students from St. Joseph School in Conway. The South Fork Nature Center offers guided tours every third Saturday of the month.

Nature Celebration Day will give people the chance to see what the South Fork Nature Center has to offer. The Saturday event will mark the first year for Nature Celebration Day.

Don Richardson, president of the Gates Rogers Foundation and the South Fork Nature Center, said there are five trails on the property.

“It’s just a celebration to get people out here to learn that we’re here and learn what’s at the nature center,” Richardson said.

Richardson said the center has been in existence for about seven years, and the trails have been a work in progress.

“The [nature] trails have been finished for about six months,” Richardson said. “We were wanting to have a celebration of them opening.”

Nature Celebration Day will give attendees an opportunity to see those trails and participate in some not-so-normal activities, such as buying the naming rights to one of the trails on the property.

The South Fork Nature Center is the Gates Rogers Foundation’s premier conservancy project, the center’s website states, and has approximately two miles of nature trails. The website also notes that the foundation is focused on protecting and preserving Arkansas’ native plants in a manner that ensures and encourages public viewing of the plants. The South Fork Nature Center’s mission statement details that the center is committed to providing enhanced outdoor education on a local and regional basis.

At Nature Celebration Day, docents will lead trail tours from 9:30-10 a.m. Center docents provide programs and outdoor-classroom learning, the center’s website states. Richardson said all of the center’s docents are entomologists and biologists.

Attendees can also participate in a scavenger hunt around the property.

“It’s designed to get them to the various places out there,” Richardson said. “We really want the folks who are there to get out on the trails and see what we have.”

“We’ve been working on them a little bit at a time, and now we’re ready to settle in,” Richardson said. “We’re hopefully going to get the community behind our nature center.”

After the scavenger hunt, lunch will be served at the Riddle Cabin, touted by the center’s website as being nearly 100 years old.

Along with tours, lunch and scavenger hunts, naming rights to the five trails will be auctioned.

“I had this idea for a fundraiser,” Richardson said.

Bidding will start at $1,000.

The South Fork Nature Center is at 962 Bachelor Road in Clinton. More information on the center is available at south

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or

Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at

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