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Turtle center on path toward completion

Sat, Apr 21, 2007


The Brunswick News

Sea turtles everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island will be open in a little more than two months.

But before the center's doors swing open, a walkway of prehistoric proportions has to be laid down.

The Walkway to Wonder is being built with personalized bricks that will lead the way into the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Jekyll Island Authority landscape architect Cliff Gawron, from left, Georgia Sea Turtle Center Director Dr. Bill Irwin, and Jekyll Island Foundation Director Cindy McDonald look over plans and brick samples for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center walkway. (Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News)

Cindy McDonald, executive director of the Jekyll Island Foundation, describes what will be done.

"The bricks will form the image of a loggerhead turtle, a huge turtle" like in prehistoric times, she said. "It's going to be pretty impressive."

The foundation sponsored a fundraiser that allowed people to buy one of the 2,000 bricks needed to build the pathway and inscribe it with a personal message.

Glynn County Commissioner Uli Keller and his wife, Sandy, made their mark on the walkway.

"It's a great investment ... and the facility is greatly needed," Keller said. "A little contribution can go a long way and make the center go a long a way."

He added that the Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a "great addition to our community."

Over in Albany in Southwest Georgia, Lake Park Elementary School has gotten involved with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Fifth-grade science teacher Nan Ward said, "a group of four boys went to the principal (a couple years ago) with a letter stating they wanted to start a sea turtle club."

They insisted Ward be a part of it. She laughs remembering that she knew nothing about it until the principal approached her.

"They wanted to learn more about sea turtles," Ward said.

So, the club was created and Ward soon learned about the center being built on Jekyll Island.

"I had been to Jekyll Island so many times and I absolutely loved it," she said.

With that knowledge, Ward returned to her classroom. The class decided it wanted to help the sea turtles along the Georgia Coast.

"Here we are a little Southwest Georgia town trying to take care of sea turtles on the coast," Ward said.

The class purchased a personalized brick for the walkway with Lake Park Elementary School imprinted on it. The Sea Turtle Club also donated $2,000 to the center through various fundraisers and plans on donating $1,000 more.

"The kids have done so much and the brick says, 'Here's my legacy, I did this, I was a part of this and I helped do this," said Ward. "Hopefully, (students will) continue to give throughout their lives."

People who purchased bricks had three lines with 15 characters per line to write a message that will last forever. The proceeds from the $50 cost of the bricks went into the Georgia Sea Turtle Center's capital campaign.

The center plans a grand opening on June 16, but McDonald said the center will be open to the public on Memorial Day weekend.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center will occupy the 1903 power plant in the Jekyll Island Historic District. The renovated building will have educational exhibits, surgical and rehabilitation areas, an information center and gift shop.

Before the building of the center, injured or sick turtles that washed ashore in the Golden Isles had to be taken many miles away to rehabilitation centers.

Some of the turtles couldn't survive the travel, and Jekyll Island's Georgia Sea Turtle Center will give the injured or sick turtles that come to our shore a better chance of survival.

Get involved :

For more information about the Georgia Sea Turtle Center or to make a donation, call 635-4402 or visit



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