Category: In The News

Students learn photography, local history, pride at Augusta Communities in Schools’ camp

by Augusta Chronicle Staff Writer, Sean Gruber

See original article here.

It’s not often that spotting a water moccasin snake elicits screams of delight rather than fear, but for the 23 youths touring the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, the rare sight was just another highlight of the Communities in Schools’ photography camp.

The middle school students spent Wednesday morning photographing wildlife, cypress trees and black water creeks, learning the history and natural features of the park as they traveled along trails and boardwalks. As the students eagerly snapped photos, many said they had never known Augusta could be “so beautiful.”

“I really enjoy the photography, but it’s also really given me a new look at my home,” Brooks Trollinger, 10, said. “I really see the greatness of God’s creation here, and now I can use a camera to help remember all of this.”

Creating a sense of pride in the Augusta community is the main goal of the “The World Around Us” week-long photography camp, which uses cameras and history lessons to link middle school students with their environment.

Funded by grants and organized jointly by the Communities in Schools and the Morris Museum of Art, the students are taught camera skills by local photographers, putting their new talents to use as they tour Augusta’s historical sites, cemeteries and parks. Executive Director Laurie Cook said the camp offers a view of Augusta that “many children don’t get to see.”

“It’s a great opportunity for all of these kids. Some of them have never really visited some of the sites we’re visiting this week. Some have told me they’ve never really crossed the river to visit some of the places around here,” Cook said. “They don’t know about the Cotton Exchange or the history of our local churches, for instance. They are amazed by some of the places they visit.”

The photographs taken by the campgoers will be archived, and some will be displayed in the Morris Museum’s Education Gallery.

Many of those attending the free camp enthusiastically embraced both their photography and history lessons.

Augusta resident Jolie Burdette said that she didn’t know what to expect when her parents signed her up, but it only took two days for her to realize she had joined “something special.”

“One of the historians we talked to earlier this week showed us pictures of historical sites as they were then and as they are now. You get to see how much things have changed here and how interesting this place really is,” Burdette said. “This park here is beautiful, and it’s so much fun taking pictures … I’m definitely coming back next year, and now I’m considering being a photographer as a job.”

WJBF Reports on Savannah River Water Quality

In response to the recent report naming the Savannah River as the 3rd most polluted in the US, Jason Nappi did an investigative 3-part report on other factors influencing this claim. Parts 2 and 3 include interviews with Dr. Oscar Flite, Phinizy Center CEO / Senior Scientist. You can watch these reports here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


Ogeechee Research Project Begins

Our joint research project on the Ogeechee River has begun. In view of the beginning of this important project, several articles have been written giving more information. You can read them below.

The Savannah Morning News tells there story here:

The Statesboro Herald reports here:

Learn more about the public information session here:


Report Ranking Savannah River 3rd Most Toxic is Questioned

Recently, a report was released naming the Savannah River as the third most toxic in the US. However, not all relevant factors were considered. The Augusta Chronicle’s Meg Mirshak interviewed CEO / Senior Scientist Oscar Flite for his viewpoint on all relevant factors. You can read it here:

Phinizy Celebrates Pendleton King’s New Waterfall

The waterfall is pictured here with the Phinizy Ornithology class field trip group.

The waterfall is pictured here with the Phinizy Ornithology class field trip group.

Phinizy Center for Water Sciences (Phinizy Center) has been hard at work on a collaborative project with Pendleton King Park made possible through a Wells Fargo / National Fish & Wildlife Foundation grant. Since April of last year, the Phinizy Research Team has spent over 500 hours on the project doing water quality monitoring, groundwater monitoring, soil analysis, and actively participating in the removal of invasive plants.

Now we are celebrating as the ribbon was cut for the newly created waterfall.

This is all part of a process which will not only beautify the park but will also result in greatly improved water quality for the Lake Elizabeth pond. The next phase of the project will be focused on the restoration of a small historical wetland that will ultimately filter excess nutrients resulting from urban runoff; the filtered water will then be pumped back into the lake via the waterfall. Better water quality will protect the area wildlife for years to come. Wetlands are important for providing a diverse wildlife habitat, preventing soil erosion, purifying water, helping with flood control and more.

This follows a successful similar project where Phinizy Center created a design for wetlands and waterfalls at North Augusta’s Brick Pond Park. Both projects provide scenic places for the public to enjoy while functioning as natural ways to increase water quality, protect wildlife and improve and protect our way of life.

Phinizy Center is proud to contribute to our local treasures.

You can read more about the the ribbon cutting here:

The new waterfall is pictured here with the Phinizy Ornithology group who recently took a field trip to Pendleton King Park.