Clarksville, TN – Two anonymous donors recently made a generous $50,000 commitment to Austin Peay State University (APSU) to expand the operations of the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative (SGI) into southern Tennessee and northern Georgia.
In March 2019, the anonymous donors, a couple from the Atlanta area, committed to make a $50,000 gift to the program over five years.
Their gift was then doubled by a matching gift from one of the donors’ employers, the Norfolk Southern Foundation, bringing their total contribution to $100,000.
“It’s our pleasure to continue our partnership with SGI to support restoration of southeastern grasslands,” the anonymous donors said. “We’re at a critical juncture now with grassland restoration and time is running out. SGI has stepped into the breach and is organizing projects at a heartening pace. We look forward to many more years working with SGI.”
The donors specified that their gift was to be used to expand SGI’s efforts to conserve grasslands in Georgia, which helped SGI to leverage contributions from other organizations, including a $50,000 gift to the University of Georgia (UGA) State Botanical Garden and $75,000 to the Friends of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia for the Piedmont Prairie Restoration Project.
The gift to SGI was matched by a $150,000 grant from the Riverview Foundation, located in Chattanooga. The grant was awarded to UGA to expand SGI’s programming into Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.
The $250,000 in combined funding will now be used to support grassland restoration efforts and a new full-time grassland ecologist position based at UGA in Athens, Georgia. The position will be a partnership position, equally branded with UGA and SGI. This coordinating ecologist will work across much of Georgia and adjacent Alabama and South Carolina.
“We are delighted to collaborate with SGI on this important effort,” UGA State Botanical Garden Director Jenny Cruse-Sanders said.
“The new ecologist will help guide efforts to conserve prairies, savannas, glades and other grasslands of this region. The new hire will work closely with government agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, utility providers such as Georgia Power, conservation leaders like the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, the Piedmont Prairie Partnership and more,” stated Cruse-Sanders.
This new position adds to the growing team that SGI has assembled since its inception in January 2018. SGI’s other coordinators and team members work in Little Rock, Arkansas; Clarksville, Chattanooga and Nashville; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and now Athens, Georgia.
To support SGI, contact the APSU Office of University Advancement at 931.221.7127.