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Mary Kahrs Warnell Forest Education Center

Are you looking for a beautiful, unique, and affordable space to hold a natural resource-related meeting, conference, training, or workshop?  If so, the Mary Kahrs Warnell Forest Education Center may be the perfect location for your next educational event!

Education Center facilities include:

  • Indoor classroom with state-of-the art audio and visual equipment (seats 50)
  • Large outdoor deck with semi-circular bench seating and fireplace.
  • Catering kitchen
  • Exhibit area with interactive displays about the history of the forest, habitat types found on the property and forest management practices
  • Groomed, interpretive hiking trails

Established in 2001, the Warnell Center’s Mission is to:

  • Explain and demonstrate responsible forest management
  • Convey the need for and benefits of sustainable forest management
  • Interpret the natural patterns and processes of forest ecosystems

To accomplish this Mission, the center primarily focuses on providing natural resource educational programming to kindergarten through 12th grade students, teachers, parents, youth-serving organizations, and the general public. Programs at the Warnell Center are hands-on and incorporate activities from award-winning environmental education curricula such as Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, Project WET, and the Beetles Project.

Center facilities are handicapped accessible.

A meeting room at the Mary Kahrs Centerinterior shots of MKW center



32,000 Year-Old Plank of Cypress

cypress wood sampleDonated by Mr. Bob Johansen and Total Fabrications Custom Woodworking. A special thanks to Mr. Fred Warnell who facilitated the donation!

This cypress timber was found just a few miles from the Center when a local Effingham County landowner was digging a sand quarry and, about 40 feet down, discovered several logs of cypress. Out of curiosity, a sample of the wood was sent off to Beta Analytic Inc. laboratories in Miami, FL to be carbon dated using radiometric carbon 14 testing techniques. Lab results found the logs to be 31,970 +/- 570 years old!

Except for a bit of ringshake, the wood is in perfect condition. Part of the timber was even used make a bass guitar (one of the frets is set with mastodon ivory). Check out the Stuart Spector Designs website to see a picture of the bass. Or, better yet, come visit the Center and touch a 9 ft. tall, 1 in. thick piece of prehistory!


Wood Panel Display

panel of harwoodsDonated by The Langdale Company, Thompson Hardwoods, Inc. and T and S Hardwoods, Inc.

The walls of the Center are lined with beautiful 2.5' x3' wood panels. On display are southern yellow pine, white oak, yellow popular, white ash, American elm, baldcypress, black walnut, and red oak panels. And, yes, you can touch them, too!


On loan from the personal collection of Mr. Jack O. Wall, Jr.

We currently have on loan two extremely interesting artifacts from the naval stores industry in south Georgia.

gum being collected from pine treeThe first is a reproduction of an original oil painting by the artist Ken Brauner. It shows gum being collected from slash and longleaf pine trees in Georgia in the early 1900's. The frame of the painting is made from the rim of one of the barrels used to store the gum collected from the trees. The border around the painting is made from the scales of longleaf pinecones!

Accompanying the unique painting is an original 1935 USDA Permit to "Market One Wooden Barrel Gum Rosin." This permit is thought to be one of three in existence; the three permits were found, tucked away in a drawer, during the demolition of a turpentine still in South Georgia. For the full story on why there are not more of these permits in existence, come visit the Mary Kahrs Warnell Forest Education Center.


Children kneel in the sandy dirt at the center

Interpretive Hiking Trails

Take a look at the online versions of our Interpretive Hiking Trail Brochures. You can walk each trail when you visit the Mary Kahrs Warnell Forest Education Center but, until then, we hope you enjoy our Virtual Versions. They are perfect for a rainy day!

Educational Programming

We have programs for a wide variety of groups including:

  • Elementary School Programs
  • Middle and High School Programs
  • Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts

Dedication Ceremony

On Nov. 1, 2001, More than 200 people attended the dedication ceremony and open house at the new Mary Kahrs Warnell Center near Savannah. Effingham County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Moore spoke about the center's educational value, and Effingham County manager David Rutherford discussed its community benefits. Mary Warnell, granddaughter of Mary Kahrs Warnell, talked about the family's history and long affiliation with both forestry and education in the Savannah area.

Warnell School of Forest Resources Dean Arnett C. Mace, Jr. dedicated the Center on behalf of the University of Georgia Foundation. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception were held outside following the program.

The center is located within the 3,300 acre Dorothy Warnell Research, Education and Demonstration Forest. The Center is named in honor of Mary Kahrs Warnell, wife of Daniel B. Warnell and the mother of five children, including sisters Dorothy, who died in 1996 and Carolyn Warnell Bryan, who deeded the land for both the forest and the Center.

Final Words

We hope you have enjoyed learning about people and the forest. We truly need our forests now more than ever. Wise forest management will ensure we always have forests and the many valuable products they provide. For more information about forests, please visit the Mary Kahrs Warnell Forest Education Center and talk with our staff.

  • Written by:
  • Dan Williams, Kris Irwin, and Gail Westcot
  • Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources
  • University of Georgia
  • Athens, Georgia