‘Novice Naturalist’ program at Rose Hill Aug. 16

By Charles Warner cwarner@civitasmedia.com

July 24, 2014

UNION — The Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site is mainly associated with the preservation of South Carolina’s past, but on Aug. 16 it will become a classroom for those wanting to learn how to study nature.

Park Interpreter Elizabeth Moses announced this week that Rose Hill will host the “Novice Naturalist” program at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16. Moses said the program is designed to acquaint participants with the variety of wildlife that inhabits the grounds of the plantation site and the surrounding area. She said its goal is to teach those interested in learning about nature how to observe, study and record their observations in a systematic way.

Novice Naturalist will be a departure from the tradition mission of the site which is designed to help preserve the history of South Carolina and provide the public with information about that history. Moses, however, said that in preserving the house and especially the grounds, the site has become a refuge for a variety of wildlife. She said the refuge aspect of the site is reinforced by its location within the Sumter National Forest.

“We’re normally a historic site, but there’s a lot of wildlife here because we are surrounded by the Sumter National Forest,” Moses said. “Often when you set aside land for the preservation of historic buildings it also becomes a sanctuary for wildlife.”

Though she serves as Park Interpreter at the site, Moses said she holds a Master’s degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation. She said that it was this background, coupled with the sanctuary aspect of the site itself, that lead to the decision to bring the Novice Naturalist program to Rose Hill and provide the public with a different kind of learning experience.

Moses said that the site and surrounding forest is home to a variety of wildlife ranging in size from spiders and insects to larger animals like deer. She said that while it is possible those participating in the program will see the larger animals, or, as is more likely, evidence of their presence, they will more likely see the smaller wildlife that inhabits the site.

“Probably what we’re going to see during the program is on the small side,” Moses said. “Things such as spiders, skinks or lizards, insects, and, of course, some birds. We are also going to look for signs of animals, things such as scat, nests, webs, tracks, and for areas that would be a likely spot to find animals.”

Moses said that park personnel have seen a number of larger animals such as deer, turkeys, rabbits, and even foxes on the site, but that while it is possible those participating in the class will get to see them, it is not very likely as they tend to remain hidden during that time of the day. Nevertheless, Moses said participants will learn how to look for and find signs of the animals’ presence in the park.

In addition to learning how to find wildlife and evidence of its presence, those participating in the program will also learn how to record their observations of nature.

“We will also instruct those attending in how to keep a wildlife journal or logbook,” Moses said. “We will provide them with a complimentary notebook to start a wildlife journal. We will also provide them with a magnifying glass and cold water to drink and we will have tables set up in the shade so they can write about their observations.”

Moses said cameras, field guides, and binoculars will also be used, and she urged participants who have any or all of these things to bring them with them.

The program is for persons ages 12 and older and Moses said that participants should wear comfortable clothes. She said participants are required to wear closed-toe shoes since they will be outside exploring the grounds of the plantation site.

Reservations are required and the program is limited to 20 people. Moses said that the registration fee is $4 per person, adding that Novice Naturalist is a Park Passport Plus program. She said that anyone with a S.C. Park Passport Plus will get in for free.

For more information about Novice Naturalist or to make reservations call 864-427-5966 or email at rosehill@scprt.com.

About Rose Hill

Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site is the antebellum home of South Carolina’s “secession governor,” William H. Gist. Visitors to the 44-acre park can learn about the lifestyle of a wealthy Upstate plantation family, Gist’s contributions to politics, and the importance of cotton in the South. Visitors also get an inside look at the role of enslaved African-Americans and tenant farmers in South Carolina’s history.

Normal Hours Of Operation

Park grounds are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. year round. The mansion home is only accessible by guided tour. Tours are held March-October, daily at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Winter tours, from November-February are scheduled Thursday-Monday at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. The grounds at Rose Hill Plantation may be rented for weddings and other events. We are located at 2677 Sardis Road, 8 miles south of Union, SC.


The South Carolina State Park Service is a program of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, a state agency that serves as the leading marketing organization for South Carolina tourism. SCPRT also operates 47 state parks and administers federal and state grants for recreational development.