Storms brewed around other parts of Augusta on June 9, but the Barrett home in Columbia County on the Savannah River went untouched and the seventh annual Swamp Soiree to benefit the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy and Phinizy Swamp went on as scheduled.
The Carl Purdy Bluegrass Band performs at the seventh annual Swamp Soiree, at the home of Hale and Lelia Barrett in Columbia County. The event is the main fund-raiser for the Southeastern National Sciences Academy and Phinizy Swamp Nature Park.
Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett
"This is our mainstay fund-raiser," said Jackie Maryak, the academy's executive vice president.
"Everyone loves this event, and I'd love to give (Hale and Lelia Barrett) credit. This is the seventh year they've hosted the soiree. To share their home with this many people this many years is so generous," she said.
About 550 people attended the party on part of the Barretts' yard, which is at the level of the river.
The Carl Purdy Bluegrass Band provided entertainment, and Dye's Southern Cooking catered the meal.
Perry Houck performed fly-fishing demonstrations, and Tony Mills, with the Savannah River Ecology Lab, brought some reptiles and amphibians to the event.
Gene Eidson, the academy's founder, president and chief executive officer, said about 7,200 pupils took part in some of the organization's formal programs a year ago.
Even more pupils visited the swamp for field trips.
About 30 formal programs at the swamp focus on ecological issues, he said.
Most of the programs are targeted at middle-school children.
"We decided to focus on middle school because we think there we can have the greatest influence on encouraging them to become scientists," he said.
Soon, the science academy's campus at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park will be complete. The site already has miles of trails and boardwalks.
The final building to be constructed is the administrative building.
Eidson said the building should be complete and the staff moved in in about two months.
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