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Howell makes donation toward Clay Hill Memorial Forest at Campbellsville University

Howell makes donation toward Clay Hill Memorial Forest at Campbellsville University
Clay Hill Memorial Forest serves as an environmental education facility for Campbellsville University. (Campbellsville University Photos by Alexandria D. Dalton)

By Matthew Taylor, news writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – George Howell is donating to Campbellsville University to construct an addition to the Joan White Howell Environmental Education Center at Clay Hill Memorial Forest (CHMF). The donation will be made through installments over the next fiscal year of 2021-22.

Howell is the husband of the late Joan White Howell, and on May 7, 1996, he donated the original acreage on her behalf with her brother Edwin Lee (Ted) White with the explicit agreement that the land would be used for environmental and forestry education and research.

The first acreage that started CHMF was received in 1996. Now, CHMF has grown to have a total of 325 acres for environmental research. Many students conduct or assist undergraduate research projects at CHMF. Some majors use the site for field labs for courses such as ecology, entomology, ornithology and conservation biology.

Dr. Jonathan Moore, director of the Clay Hill Memorial Forest, said, “I’m excited for the opportunities the dedicated lab space in the new building will offer our students for their independent research projects.

“Our students have already conducted many stellar projects at Clay Hill Memorial Forest, but the new lab will facilitate the projects even more.

“I’m also excited for our library space, which will provide students and scholars not only with material to support their projects but also will provide a quiet place to study.”

Howell makes donation toward Clay Hill Memorial Forest at Campbellsville University 2
Clay Hill offers a variety of learning opportunities for students and the community.

“The current building on Clay Hill serves as a field trip destination, houses animals and displays and is used as office space for our director Dr. Jonathan Moore and myself,” Amy Berry, environmental educator and instructor of environmental science, said. “Our new building will have all of these in separate rooms with more classroom space and will also include a library.”

The donation will solely go toward the new building for CHMF.

“The new building will not just benefit ourselves, our science faculty and students but provide opportunities for other divisions to use for gathering or to bring small classes,” Berry said. “The education department has used Clay Hill on numerous occasions to teach education majors, and we have benefitted from the education students assisting in field trips by local schools.”

“In the past, we have had schools cancel field trips due to inclement weather,” Berry said. “Having more space to offer inside programs would mean that we could still host those field trips.”

Construction on the new building is scheduled to begin in late September.

Since the transfer of stewardship of the land in 1996, George Howell visits at least once a year to hike Little Angel Spring. Little Angel was the childhood nickname of Joan White Howell, and the trail is named for her and a memorial to her can be found at the end of the trail.

Howell makes donation toward Clay Hill Memorial Forest at Campbellsville University 1
Walking paths and informational signs make up Clay Hill Memorial Forest for use by all its visitors.

Along with Little Angel Spring trail, there are four more trails open to the public. CHMF is open for public exploration from dawn to dusk. To find more information about CHMF visit

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 13,500 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is