ASU Partners with Flint RiverQuarium & Dougherty County to Support Environmental Education and Wellness

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Albany State University, with support from the University System of Georgia (USG), announced Friday a partnership between the university, the Flint RiverQuarium and Dougherty County to promote environmental education and health and wellness opportunities for the residents and students of Albany and Southwest Georgia.

The USG was provided $1 million in grant funding for the partnerships. The announcement was made during an afternoon news conference May 12th. 

The strategic partnerships were evidenced and established through two memorandums of understanding—one between ASU and the Flint RiverQuarium, and one between ASU and Dougherty County. 

The new relationship between ASU and the Flint RiverQuarium enables the university to use its academic strengths to support the RiverQuarium through increased education and research programs. Specifically, ASU would enhance the work of its Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center and natural sciences disciplines.

“The ASU partnership with the Flint RiverQuarium gives us the opportunity to increase course offerings in biology, chemistry, forensic science, public administration and science education. We can develop new degree programs and minors and enhance service learning options for students and faculty,” said ASU President Art Dunning. “Through our partnership with Dougherty County on the Flint River Trails, ASU will be able to address health and wellness issues while contributing to the economic viability of our area by connecting the campus to downtown Albany.”

“This investment represents the University System of Georgia’s commitment to helping strengthen the Albany community and the Southwest Georgia region, and will help Albany State and other USG institutions advance our mission of teaching, research and public service,” said USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley.

In addition, the university’s research mission will be broadened as national experts and researchers will be attracted to the Flint River Basin to conduct their work.

“The Flint RiverQuarium and its open-air aquarium is a tourism destination and attraction, but it's also a research and educational facility that promotes the study of the biodiversity of the Flint River ecosystem,” said Faison Middleton on behalf of the Flint RiverQuarium Board of Directors. “We’re excited about the partnership with ASU and for the possibilities it offers for more people to visit this asset, learn about this unique ecosystem, expand educational opportunities and conduct their research at the RiverQuarium.”

The ASU-Dougherty County partnership supports health and wellness by further developing the Flint River Trails project to connect the ASU campus, which is situated along the Flint River, to downtown Albany. The trail connectivity facilitates the university’s role in creating a healthier community by reducing sedentary behavior and enabling easier access to the university’s health education program and screening events.

The execution of this component of Dougherty County’s Flint River Trails System will help provide easy and safe foot and bicycle access from the campus to downtown, promoting fitness and improving health outcomes in the area. Further, connecting the campus and its students to downtown Albany via the trail will encourage students and visitors to shop, dine and visit downtown attractions such as the Flint RiverQuarium.

“The trails project identifies more than 20 miles of multi-use trails in Dougherty County with the potential to positively change the landscape of the county, increase tourism, and grow economic opportunities by connecting people to outdoor recreation areas, neighborhoods, schools, restaurants and shops,” said Christopher S. Cohilas, chairman of the Dougherty County Commission, an early supporter of trails who has invested in realizing the aggressive implementation of the Flint River Trail System. “This partnership means we can move quickly in getting the Albany State portion of the trail completed and ready for use.” 

Community advocate Jeff Bodine Sinyard supported the full scope of the relationship.

“We are grateful to Albany State University and the University System of Georgia for this partnership and we look forward to realizing the opportunities it presents,” he said.

For more information, contact Danyelle Gary, interim director of university communications, at danyelle.gary@asurams.edu or 229-873-0382.