Watershed Ecology Center: Behind the blue doors


By Erika Hollis
The Carolinian

Next time you go to the food court, notice the painted light blue double doors with different animals on them and the outline of South Carolina. It houses the USC Upstate Watershed Ecology Center (WEC) on the first floor of the Smith Science Building.

Emphasis of the WEC is placed on watershed conservation, education, water quality and the study of organisms living in the area encompassed by a watershed. The Center offers educational programs such as rain barrel workshops, Adopt-A-Stream, community outreach and summer camps.



Jack Turner

Jack Turner, PhD in Ecology, is the director and explained what was behind those whimsical doors.

What kind of animals do you house in the Watershed Ecology Center?
We have three eastern box turtles and two red eared sliders, which are aquatic turtles.

What programs do you offer?
We offer a wide variety of programs, all of which are related some way to water.  Each program is grade specific and will meet state education standards. We have over 50 different programs.

Do, students need to make an appointment?
No you don’t need an appointment to visit the Center, there is usually someone there between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day.  I am part-time and my hours are usually Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning 9 a.m. – noon.

How did the partnership between USC Upstate and Spartanburg Water start?
I started the Center while I was still teaching at USC Upstate.  I retired from the Science Department after 38 years of teaching. The partnership started because the County Storm Water Department needed an educational component and many of our programs dealt with water erosion so it was a good fit for both of us.

Why did you choose to partner with USC Upstate?
I chose USC Upstate because I was already part of this campus thus I already had a home.

What type of degrees does staff members of the WEC hold?
My staff has degrees in education either in Science or Environmental science.

Do you offer volunteer opportunities for USC Upstate students?
Yes, we enjoy having students come and help with the animal care and other activities in the Center.

Visit the website for more information: