A major bequest from a West Point native and longtime conservationist will establish a demonstration wetland, outdoor classroom, and associated upland prairie in the heart of Mississippi State’s Starkville campus.
"The bequest from Carsie Clark Young Sr. provides resources for developing a site expected to become one of the most outstanding wetland education theaters on a university campus," said Rick Kaminski, who holds the James C. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation in the College of Forest Resources. "Ducks Unlimited and MSU also are providing significant financial support for WET."
Ducks Unlimited and Kaminski had advised Young, who died Sept. 8, on strategies for developing a wetland complex on his Clay County property. Young and Kaminski became close friends and it was through this relationship that Young decided to invest in educating others about the value of wetlands and their conservation.
"He was an outstanding steward of the land and its resources," Kaminski said. "This gift is a most appropriate legacy for the value Clark Young placed on education, wildlife conservation, and giving back."
Young was president of Clark Vending Co. and served as a director and secretary of both C.C. Clark Inc. and Clark Distributing Co. In addition to being active in civic organizations such as Rotary, he also served as a national trustee and volunteer with Ducks Unlimited and supported Delta Waterfowl.
Pending approval by the state Board of Trustees, Institutions of Higher Learning, the theater will be known as the Carsie Clark and Diane Worthington Young Wetland Education Theater, honoring both Young and his wife of more than 50 years. Diane Worthington Young died in 2008.
The theater will be located on open land east of the Department of Landscape Architecture and north of Thompson Hall and will consist of four water retention cells and a network of walks, trails, and bridges that will weave through the site and lead to outdoor classrooms and an adjacent restored prairie site.
Project directors are Kaminski and Sadik Artunc, landscape architecture department head, and project designer is Robert Poore of Jackson-based Native Habitats Landscape.
Design planning is now under way, with anticipated completion in about a year, and the project will have numerous benefits for the university.
"A wetland education center is especially important for educational programs with landscape architecture, forestry, and wildlife and fisheries to expose students to best examples of green infrastructure and other sustainable applications such as man-made wetlands near the traditional brick and mortar classrooms," said Artunc.
He continued, "An outdoor classroom where education may take place within the example of best management practices being taught is invaluable for environmental education to the public at large, and it will create a destination for campus visitors based on unique educational, passive recreation, and leisure activities."
For more information on the project, contact Kaminski at (662) 325-2623 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.