The Lessons of Nature

Quattlebaum CenterStudents have new opportunities to enjoy and learn about our surroundings

WHILE HE WAS A STUDENT in the Bridge to Clemson program, Andy Quattlebaum spent many happy hours at the Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Complex. Along with an interest in wildlife conservation, Andy loved camping, rock climbing, boating and many of the activities that the complex offers.

When Andy passed away in 2019, his parents, Don and Hayden Quattlebaum, wanted to honor his memory in a way that would reflect his love for the great outdoors and also provide an expanded learning opportunity for future generations of University students. Their gift created the Andy Quattlebaum Outdoor Education Center on the grounds of the Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Complex.

Blending with the natural beauty of its surroundings, the Quattlebaum Center reflects Clemson’s dedication to sustainability and preservation while focusing on education and leisure activities. As one of two facilities in the country to use southern yellow pine cross-laminated timber (material first tested by a Clemson Creative Inquiry group), the 16,500-square-foot Outdoor Education Center will serve as a national model for educational recreation and leisure space.  A patio and second-level deck offer commanding views of Lake Hartwell while a boathouse and equipment rental offer a more active lake experience. Dedicated multiuse classroom spaces provide room for trip planning and experiential learning.

The Quattlebaum Center houses the Clemson Outdoor Recreation and Education Program (CORE), which provides the Clemson community with a variety of outdoor adventure opportunities. Recreational trips and instructional programs are scheduled throughout the year and include backpacking, whitewater rafting, paddle boarding, kayaking, skiing and rock climbing. Trips are designed for every skill level, from beginner to advanced adventurer.

Created to be a destination that brings students together and connects them with outdoor recreation, activities provided at the Quattlebaum Center will place an emphasis on wellness, relaxation and experiences that promote physical, mental and emotional health.

The center also provides opportunity for student leadership. Clemson senior Katie Hansen says that serving as a CORE trip leader has been one of her most rewarding Clemson experiences. “Every mile or extra pound of gear in my backpack becomes infinitely worth the work when I see the empowerment and joy of the outdoors being shared,” said Hansen, who has led more than 20 trips with CORE. “We may only have these students for hours or days at a time, but the privileges of leadership, service and teaching are ones that we strive to make the most of each and every trip.”

Andy Quattlebaum’s love for Clemson came naturally. His father, Don, graduated in 1976, his grand-father in 1934 and his great-grandfather in 1909. His grandfather, Alexander McQueen Quattlebaum, was an engineering professor at Clemson and went on to serve on the board of trustees from 1958-74.

Now the Quattlebaums continue the family legacy of giving back to Clemson, as they become the University’s seventh Academic Cornerstone Partner with their $2.7 million gift. $500,000 will be used to support the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science in Georgetown, along with support for Clemson students who work at the institute. But it is the creation of the campus outdoor education center named to honor the memory of their son that is especially meaningful to their family.

“It is our hope that this beautiful facility will help many others learn about, appreciate and love the outdoors as Andy did,” said Don Quattlebaum. “In this world where there is a growing concern for the environment and man’s place in it, the more that people can learn about the outdoors and participate in all that it has to offer, the better chance that they will make better choices in life about the world around us.”

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