Naturalist Center

The Naturalist Center is one of the most intriguing places at The Ford Plantation. Here you’ll find the office of the staff naturalist, located in a building commonly referred to as the Oyster House, which was originally Henry Ford’s cabin—what many today would call his man cave. Above the front door hangs a cryptic sign that reads AIG-ROEG. It’s said the sign was created by Ford as an inside joke, a tongue-in-cheek memorial to repeated questions from friends who asked him why he was moving to “backward Georgia.” Almost 100 years later, the sign remains as a quiet testament to Henry Ford’s legacy.

Inside the Oyster House, you’ll discover a collection of fossils, animal skulls, snakes, turtles, and various other reptiles which our naturalist uses for kids’ camps and other educational demonstrations. In addition to the Oyster House, the Naturalist Center features an observation deck overlooking the marsh, turtle pens, and an owl barn for rehabilitating injured birds of prey.

Naturalist Program

Environmental Stewardship

Ask any member at Ford and they will tell you that one of the main reasons they chose The Ford Plantation is the opportunity to enjoy its natural beauty and embrace Lowcountry living. As an experienced wildlife biologist, The Ford Plantation staff naturalist can help both members and visitors understand the flora and fauna around them, giving them the tools they need to help preserve the natural splendor across the property for generations to come! Some ways in which we promote living in harmony with nature include:

  • Becoming an Audubon Certified Sanctuary for Golf Courses
  • Designing programs that help members appreciate the beauty around them
  • Habitat preservation including boxes for bluebirds, wood ducks, and owls
  • Participation in Audubon’s Monarchs in the Rough initiative
  • Involving members with Wildlife Population Counts
  • Participation in Operation Pollinator
  • Natural Pest Control Solutions including bat boxes and purple martin houses
  • Partnership with local organizations promoting wildlife
Audubon International
baby alligators
big leaf

Activities for Members

At The Ford Plantation, our Naturalist program is designed to create deeper connections between our members and the natural environment through memorable experiences for all ages. Listed below are just some of the wonderful opportunities for members and their guests. Please call our naturalist for more information and to schedule activities.

  • Seasonal bird counts
  • Bluebird monitoring
  • Junior naturalist programs
  • Children’s camps
  • Nature walks
  • Kayaking trips
  • River cruises
  • Naturalist Center tours
  • Barrier island specialty trips
  • Beach excursions and shelling trips
  • Trips to local wildlife refuges
  • Gator spotting (seasonal)
  • Gator tagging (seasonal)
Brittany Rigelwood

Brittany Dodge, Naturalist

Brittany Dodge was one of those kids always covered in mud, following the trail of an unsuspecting animal to learn more about it. She graduated two years early from Mercer University with the intention of pursuing a career in the medical field, but a mission trip to Trinidad changed her plans. Brittany spent the summer teaching biology by day and doing sea turtle research by night, and she quickly realized that she was meant for a different path. She interned at Oatland Island Wildlife Center and worked briefly with North American river otters.

Brittany obtained a Masters of Biology from Clemson University while working as a veterinary technician and wildlife rehabilitator. She worked with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources as a Wildlife Biologist doing sea turtle and alligator research. After joining the Outdoor Pursuits team at The Ford Plantation, Brittany obtained her Captain’s license. She is a member of the American Society of Naturalists, where she lectures regularly.

Recent Naturalist Program Activities

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