On an average day, David Warnell wakes up before the sun rises in his town of Claxton, Georgia. After grabbing a Toaster Strudel and a cup of joe for the drive, Warnell heads 10 miles down the road where he arrives at Groveland Farms.
According to Warnell, the property has “some of all of it for the coastal plain of Georgia.” The 9,500 acres of land ranges from river swamps and river bottom from the Canoochee River to the highest elevation in Bryan County.
To Warnell, Groveland Farms isn’t just a few thousand acres of land or a livelihood. Groveland Farms is a piece of property that has been in his family since the 1890’s.
The land was originally purchased for the turpentine business by Warnell’s Grandfather, Daniel B. Warnell. Over one hundred years later, the property he originally purchased still serves many purposes. The land not only serves as a haven for the Gopher Tortoise and Eastern Indigo Snake, but also has a Conservation Easement Plan on 600 acres through the Department of Natural Resources.
However, Daniel B. Warnell’s impact on forestry expands far beyond the 9,500 acres of the timberland in Groveland. In 1991, the University of Georgia named their forestry school after Daniel B. Warnell, making its official name the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
“I think that [my Grandfather] would be very proud, humbled, and honored by the success a of school with his name affiliated with it,” says Daniel B. Warnell Grandson, David Warnell.
The mission of the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources is “To prepare leaders in the conservation and sustainable management of forests and other natural resources; to discover ways to restore and better use the earth’s natural resources; and to put into practice forestry and natural resources knowledge.”
Ben Jackson, a Professor of Timber Harvesting and Alternative Forest Products, says that the school has quality faculty and staff, excellent facilities and resources, as well as outstanding support from the state’s forestry community.
“In my opinion, the high rank of the Warnell School is primarily due to the instructors,” says David Warnell.
Through managing and hosting events at Groveland Farms, consulting, and management plans, the Warnell family is still heavily involved in the promotion of the forestry industry as a whole today.
“Forestry is one of the largest industries in the state of Georgia,” says Warnell. “It impacts the economy to a degree where we feel that we need to do everything we can to support the timber and forestry industry so that the state will be a benefactor.”
Over 100 years later, a lot of people will agree that the state has benefitted from something that started as a family farm in Groveland, Georgia.
For more information of the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, visit their website.