News & Updates


The Duke Energy Foundation awarded Nature as Teacher a grant to mitigate erosion and provide local native habitat by planting grasses, wildflowers and shrubs near the entrance and along the driveway of the Hardscramble preserve for education. Read more about how Duke Energy invests in projects that help preserve and enhance South Carolina's natural places. ( 2020 Nature Grants) We Celebrated Earth Day at the preserve by participating in socially-distanced volunteer planting on Saturday April 17th. Planting Day was a success and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our community! For a full recap of what we planted, why, and where to find these plants, please view our “ Beautiful Berms” PDF.

an individual planting a tree
children around a table with various planting supplies
group of people planting shrubs
an individual planting a tree
Community members gathered to celebrate Nature As Teacher Groundbreaking
Community members breakng ground with shovels for Nature as Teacher event

On October 21st a group of passionate community members gathered to celebrate Nature As Teacher’s Groundbreaking!

Digital rendering of the new bathhouse facility


Construction of a new bathhouse facility will start shortly after the New Year. This facility will help welcome visitors with the creature comforts of 8 toilet rooms with sinks, water bottle filling stations, a laundry/storage room, and a shower for field students.

Digital rendering of the pavilion-style outdoor classroom space coming next year


Phase two of construction will provide a pavilion-style outdoor classroom space for field trips and community groups to gather.


Ellie Johnson, a graduate student partnering with the Historic Camden Foundation has developed online resources for those wishing to study the long lead pine ecosystem virtually! Please visit her site here:

In late October Jeremy Dertien, a Ph.D. Candidate at Clemson University along with Daniel Hanks a Post-doctoral researcher at Clemson and the project’s Environmental Education Specialist Leoncia Cruz placed a series of camera traps on the Hardscramble Preserve for Education. Photos from these cameras will help us know what types of animals are using the preserve for food, shelter and water. We can learn which types of habitats mammals use most, where they move, when they utilize certain areas, and other behaviors from studying series of photos taken from multiple cameras in different areas over time. This data can inform areas of focus for habitat restoration.

Jeremy Dertien and Leoncia Cruz placing a series of camera traps on the Hardscramble Preserve for Education
close up of deer's head in a wildlife camera
bird in flight taken in the woods from a tree camera
bird in flight taken in the woods from a tree camera
Jacob Murray, a Clemson University graduate student.
Longleaf Pine stand at Hardscramble preserve.

Jacob Murray, a Clemson University graduate student studying forestry is hard at work this fall at the Hardscramble preserve for education. Jacob designed a project to better understand the way forests grow, and gain knowledge about best practices for restoring the area's keystone species, the Longleaf Pine. With the help of Jacob's project, Hardscramble preserve will feature an expansion of the Longleaf Pine stand which will provide native habitat and help sustain a more fire-resistant local ecosystem.

Jeremy Dertien is a Ph.D. candidate at Clemson University studying wildlife biology and conservation planning. Jeremy's research focuses on how different bird and mammal species use the habitat of Hardscramble Preserve and the surrounding Congaree Biosphere Region. Knowledge from studies like this help us to better understand best practices for conservation planning. Jeremy's work will help to inventory the 100+ bird species that utilize Hardscramble Preserve every year and guide decisions about important areas in the region to conserve for future generations.

Jeremy Dertien at work doing research at Hardscramble Preserve.
Jeremy Dertien a Clemson University Ph.D. candidate head shot

To learn more about Jeremy and his projects you can visit his Wildlife & Conservation Science portfolio website.