Clemson students help fulfill philanthropist Margaret Lloyd’s vision of environmental education
CAMDEN – Margaret “Peggy” Lloyd had a vision to turn 853 acres of Kershaw County into an educational mecca. Lloyd died before her dream was realized, but a group of Clemson University students is helping to make her wishes come true.
The property, known as Hardscramble, consists of longleaf pine trees and forested wetland bordered by the Wateree River on one side and the town of Camden on the other. Hardscramble is the base for Clemson’s Margaret H. Lloyd SmartState Project. It is used to teach students about the environment. In addition to the land, Lloyd gave Clemson $2 million to support economic and community development through environmental education and research programs. Lloyd’s gift was met by the SmartState Program to expand the public’s knowledge of how to have a strong economy and healthy environment.
Clemson professor Rob Baldwin is the Margaret H. Lloyd-SmartState endowed chair who oversees the project.
“The motto of this project is ‘Nature as Teacher,’” Baldwin said. “Mrs. Lloyd was a beloved philanthropist with a passion for science. The research opportunities afforded Clemson students by her generous gift are outstanding. Our students are able to engage in educational opportunities they may not otherwise have if it was not for this project. We are very appreciative of Mrs. Lloyd’s gift and that her vision included Clemson University.”
Toby Story, a wildlife and fisheries biology graduate student from West Hobart, Australia, has a project that involves environmental education targeted at area schools. Story’s project focuses on how to get younger students involved in learning about the environment. Samuel Dobrozsi, a graduate student in parks, recreation and tourism management department from Loveland, Ohio, is researching possible benefits of biking for the community. Dobrozsi’s plan takes into account the rugged terrain on some parts of Hardscramble.
“Biking is becoming more popular in South Carolina and this property may be a good site for bike trails,” Dobrozsi said. “It has a varied topography and trails can be built for beginning cyclists to the most experienced. Bike trails could help the local economy as well because people will need places to stay, eat and shop while they are in the area.”
Bird watching is another benefit of the property. Jeremy Dertien, a wildlife and fisheries biology graduate student from Austin, Texas, found several species of birds on the property. Birds nesting in the area include red-headed woodpeckers, wood ducks, barred owls, brown creepers and more.
“People enjoy birding because it puts them out in nature, away from the hustle and bustle,” Dertien said. “The Lloyd property is an ideal place for birders to visit because it has a varied inventory of birds that will allow people to see different species in the same place. They won’t have to travel far to see these birds.”
Dertien also is studying birds and the connection between Hardscramble and the Congaree Biosphere Reserve.
Other students also working on projects at the site include:
- Taylor Parker, a graduate student in parks, recreation and tourism management from Van Nuys, California, who is researching Margaret Lloyd’s personal story;
- Alex Shrier, a senior forest resource management student from Myrtle Beach, who is studying longleaf pine trees that abound on the property;
- Marion Clement, a graduate research assistant in forestry and environmental conservation from Princeton, New Jersey, is conducting a related urban owl study;
- Cole Little, a senior environmental and natural resources student from Anderson, created a website — https://www.clemson.edu/cafls/lloyd_project/ — for the endowment; and
- A group of students led by Marzieh Motallebi, an assistant professor for the forestry and environmental conservation department, which is studying ecosystem services as related to the property.
With so many diverse projects associated with the property, Daniel Hanks, a post-doctoral researcher working on the Palmetto Green project, said this is the perfect opportunity to create a partnership between conservationists and business owners. Palmetto Green is a statewide land-use planning project geared at addressing land conservation issues.
“With all that is going on today, we are experiencing rapid changes in urbanization, habitat fragmentation and energy development,” Hanks said. “We need a landscape conservation design to address these changes and provide a system of managed and protective areas that are representative of socio-ecologically important species, ecosystems and cultural resources.”
The landscape conservation design Hanks refers to is one of “co-produced, cross-pollinated” knowledge that involves stakeholders on local, state, regional and national levels.
“The project combines environmental conservation with economic development,” Hanks said. “It allows optimization of the landscape through the development of a land-use plan based on shared values across multiple sectors.”
Optimal land use combined with education is exactly what Lloyd had envisioned for the property, said her attorney, Bob Sheheen. Land and education were “in her blood,” he said.
Lloyd went to college after her husband died when she was in her mid-40s. She was interested in science and graduated with a degree in geology. When she was in her 80s, Lloyd developed a website to teach children about the connection between humans and the water cycle, the food we eat, the land we live on and the air we breathe.
“Margaret always believed there was a connection between people and the land,” Sheheen said. “She believed the world was beautiful and that she could help make it even better. She bought this property to engage people with the natural world through research, teaching and service. She wanted people to gain an awareness of the environment so that they would appreciate it and respect it as she did.”