EarthWindFire, Gordon State College science club, visited Cumberland Island, Georgia on Saturday, April 2 and Okefenokee Swamp on Sunday, April 3. For over 20 years this has been an annual trip for the club, but this year marked the first time since 2019 GSC EarthWindFire was able to attend.
“This was my eighteenth trip with science club students to Cumberland Island and to the Okefenokee Swamp,” said Dr. Linda Hyde, GSC professor of biology. “This is over the twenty-three spring semesters I have been at Gordon State College. The trip is different every time, and this time was notable for the bonding among the students. They seemed to enjoy being together more than any group I remember.”
Club members rode a ferry to Cumberland Island, which is a natural seashore and limits the number of people visiting each day. On the island, they looked at the ruins of the Dungeness mansion, roamed the maritime forest and the beach as well as visited the museum showing the history of the island.
Hyde said that after a long first day that ended with “the emergence of clouds of biting sand gnats,” the club returned to the mainland for dinner and ice cream in St. Marys.
“The Cumberland and Okefenokee trip was amazing! Our group had such a fun time and bonded so much in the short time we were there,” said Emma Mixon, EarthWindFire science club president. “One of my favorite memories was when we all tried the swamp water for the first time. Couldn’t have asked for a better trip!”
At the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge the following day, a naturalist took the group on a pontoon boat tour of the Okefenokee Swamp. It’s the largest blackwater swamp in North America.
Hyde recollected some of the favorite sightings among the group.
“In addition to alligators and flowering swamp plants, favorite sightings included an adult barred owl and its two fluffy-looking owlets,” Hyde said. “The adult was feeding its owlets high in a tree. We had a great view of the family.”
Some activities that concluded the 2-day trip included a tour of Chesser Homestead, a “swampers” homestead dating from the late 1800s, and a walk to an observation tower overlooking the swamp.
“Like everything here at Gordon, the best part of the recent science club trip to Cumberland Island and the Okefenokee Swamp was easily the people,” said Susan Hoffman, EarthWindFire science club member. “While we learned a great deal on the trip and had the opportunity to explore the world up close through science, I couldn’t have asked to go with a more generous and accepting group of remarkable individuals.”
For more information on EarthWindFire and how to join, visit www.gordonstate.edu or contact Dr. Linda Hyde at L_Hyde@gordonstate.edu.