"There are heartbeats in the wilderness. They share our moments in the mountains, in the swamps, and in and on the waters of our land, wherever we might be. They are the large part of the reason we are there, whether with a camera, gun, fishing rod, or pack sack on."
The 6,400-acre Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, offers a variety of activities and programs. This beautiful area is centrally located in the state in a beautiful wooded setting near Mansfield, Georgia, making it easily accessible from Atlanta, Athens and Macon.
Who Was Charlie Elliott?
"Whatever your reason for being there, the outdoors is a world apart, a creation unique with its own colors, its special music, and its matchless variety of fragrance. No human paint brush could ever duplicate its beauty, no musical instrument its blended symphonies, and there is no way to match its fragrance with chemicals."
Charles Newton Elliott (1906–2000) lived in Covington, Georgia and served as the first Director of Georgia State Parks in 1937–1938. He became the Commissioner of Natural Resources in 1938–1941 then was the first Director of the Game and Fish Commission (now known as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division) in 1943–1949. Elliott also was Southeastern Field Editor for Outdoor Life magazine from 1950 until his passing. His dedication to the conservation of the natural world and wildlife was evident to those who knew him personally and those who read his many writings.
- Archery Range
- Shooting Range (Range rules)
- Bird Watching
- Boat Access
- Horseback Riding
- Primitive Camping
- Business or Other Meeting Accommodations
- Conference Center Facility
- Banquet Hall
- School Programming
- Teacher Education Programs
The Charlie Elliott Visitor Center is the information “hub.” If you are not sure how to begin your outdoor adventures at CEWC—start here! Our staff will give you information on available activities at CEWC. If your outdoor interests include shooting sports, fishing, camping, hiking, biking, or even star-gazing, opportunities abound. Trail maps with regulations are available at the Visitor Center or online.
If you prefer learning about nature inside, you will love the museum housed within the visitor’s center! Come experience Charlie Elliott’s life through the collection of books, photographs, and other hunting and fishing memorabilia that he personally donated. The museum also houses a replica of Charlie’s actual den (where he wrote the last two books in his life), interactive wildlife exhibits, and a bird viewing alcove (with supplied binoculars), which overlooks a pond and a native plant garden. Children of all ages will enjoy playing nature detective with our museum Scavenger Hunt worksheet. Children can also pick up a Junior Ranger book, a program started in Georgia by Charlie himself.
Admission to the museum is free, and self-guided groups are welcome (please give advanced notice of groups of ten or more). Bring cash or your cards for our gift gallery too. You will love our reasonable prices on apparel, field guides, shooting gear and other unique gifts.
Hours: Normal operating hours are MondaySaturday 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. This building is closed on Sunday and all state holidays, but the CEWC property is always open. If you have any questions, please contact us at 770-784-3059.
Groups may reserve a variety of facilities for meetings, conferences, banquets and other functions at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. The expansive wood and stone Arts and Crafts style buildings were designed to complement the surrounding landscape of the area, providing a beautiful backdrop and comfortably accommodating many types of functions. Before and after meetings, visitors can tour the exhibits in the Visitors' Center, stroll along nature trails, cast a line in one of 16 fishing ponds or practice their skills at the shooting range.
- 28 hotel-style guest rooms that accommodate up to 72 people.
- An expansive banquet hall with a massive stone fireplace adjoins a 2,500-square-foot deck. The banquet hall currently is furnished for groups up to 300 people, but can accommodate groups as large as 325.
- A variety of delicious buffet menu choices to serve your guests or the flexibility to use a caterer.
- A central meeting room with a covered deck and restroom facilities accommodates up to 70 people.
- Two additional conference rooms each accommodate up to 25 people.
- An on-site professional event coordinator is available to help plan activities.
- Audio-visual equipment rental is available.
Conference facilities include a large main conference room with adjoining covered patio and deck that accommodates up to 70 people and two additional conference rooms that accommodate up to 25 people each. Large windows afford stunning views of the lake and surrounding natural hardwood forest.
Costs: Based on meeting room(s) required, rates range from $100 to $3,000. Call 770-784-3152 for specific pricing.
Twenty-eight hotel-style guest rooms are available near Clubhouse Lake. Fourteen rooms have two full-size beds, two rooms have one full bed and one twin-sized bed, eight rooms have three twin-sized beds, and four rooms have one bunk and two twin-size beds. A handicapped-accessible room is available in each of the lodge buildings.
Costs: $50 per night, single or double occupancy, $60 per night, triple or quad occupancy.
The banquet hall has a massive stone fireplace inside the hall and outside on the adjoining deck. Meal plans for both overnight and day meetings can be tailored to fit any need.
Guests may arrange for meals to be catered, provided the caterer is registered with the Conference Center. Please call 770.784.3152 for meals and banquet hall rental pricing.
Charlie Elliott requires contracts for reservations of any type. All reservations require a damage and security deposit.
In the event of a cancellation, 30 days or less from event, deposit is forfeited and customer will be assessed 100% of total estimated contract value (including catering charges). Cancellation’s made 31–60 days prior to event date, forfeit deposit and customer will be assessed 50% of total estimated contract value (including catering charges). Any cancellation made 61 days or more prior to event start date, customer would be eligible for return of entire damage and security deposit, and not be liable for any additional fees.
- Pricing for conference rooms, lodging and dining/banquet hall listed assumes use of on-site meal services. If a group uses outside services (caterer, etc.), room rental prices are subject to change.
- Currently, easels, podiums, microphones and coffee with condiments and cups are included in room rental costs. For additional audio-visual needs, please call for rental fees.
- Telephones and televisions are not available in rooms—helping you to focus on business or educational purposes! Phones are available for local calls or for calling card use at the Conference Room and Dining/Banquet Hall.
- Housekeeping staff clean rooms prior to your arrival and after your departure. Additional towels are available upon request.
- If your organization is tax-exempt and/or hotel/motel tax exempt, you must provide a copy of the official governmental form for exemption for each tax upon reservation or taxes will be charged.
- Sales tax is not included in rate quotes.
- This facility is a smoke-free and tobacco-free environment. Smoking or other tobacco use is permitted only in designated areas outside the buildings.
For more information or to make a reservation, contact:
Lacy Mitchell, Charlie Elliott Conference Coordinator
P: (770) 784-3152
F: 770-784 3116
Following is a listing of several other opportunities available at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center (CEWC).
Several 3-D targets of various sizes and ranges provide a unique opportunity to practice archery. Rules are posted at the beginning of the trail, which is located adjacent to the 100-yard shooting range off Marben Farm Road (CEWC's north entrance road). Stay straight past Elliott Trial, and turn left into the next driveway to go to the trial. Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
The Charlie Elliott Astronomy Club meets at the Visitors' Center once a month and frequently views the night sky from an on-site observing field. Visit http://ceastronomy.org for starting times, highlights of presentations, and the latest on special events that may come up during the year.
The wide range of habitats found at the CEWC provide critical habitat for many bird species, both common and rare. Over 200 bird species use these diverse habitats. Therefore, CEWC was designated an Important Bird Area in 2002 by the Atlanta Audubon Society. Bring your binoculars and field guides, and see how many species you can find! Bird Species Checklists are available at the Visitors' Center or here: Checklist.
Camping is allowed only in the designated primitive campground area, and no reservations are taken. Sites are available on a first-come first-served basis and each has room for a tent, a fire ring and a picnic table. Camping is limited to 14 consecutive days. Loaded firearms are prohibited in camping areas. No noise is allowed after 10 p.m. or before 7 a.m. in such a manner that may be heard by other campers.
Two shooting ranges (50- & 100-yard) offer recreational shooters a chance to take aim! Visitors are asked to sign in at the range and abide by the posted rules. A DNR range safety officer can help you with any questions. You must bring your own eye and ear protection, targets and target stands. The target should be high enough for the round to strike the backstop berm and not the ground, thereby reducing the chance of it skipping off and escaping the range. You must remove all of your trash before leaving the range complex, including spent brass and used targets. Shooting Range hours are Tuesday - Saturday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Plans for building your own target stands are available at the Visitor's Center. All range rules are strictly enforced. A minimum $250 fine is imposed for shooting outside range operating hours.
Several miles of hiking trails provide the perfect opportunity to explore various habitats and to view wildlife. Try our 5.6-mile multiuse trail for horseback riding, non-motorized biking and hiking. We also offer a Driving Trail, which begins and ends at the entrance information boards (where brochures are available). Hiking trail and multi-use trail maps are available at the Visitor's Center. Dogs are allowed on trails but must be on a leash at all times. Horses are required to have current Coggins test results.
- Some trails may be closed due to logging or construction.
- The multiuse trail is closed during firearms deer hunts: 2015-16 Hunts are: Oct. 9-11, Oct. 29-31, Nov. 19-21, Nov. 27-29, Dec. 18-20.
- The multiuse trail is closed from sunrise until 10 a.m. during archery and turkey hunts: 2015-16 Hunts are: Nov. 7-13, Mar. 26-Apr. 3, Apr. 9-17, Apr. 25-May 1, May 6-15
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and contribute to the community. Regular and occasional help is needed with educational programs, kids fishing events, gardening, trail maintenance and more! In addition to the good feeling when helping others, CEWC volunteering brings other perks too - like a 10 percent discount on clothing and 5 percent on other items in our Gift Gallery! For more information on how to offer your time and talents, please call our Volunteer Coordinator at (770) 784-3060.
Educational opportunities abound at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center and include informal public programs and kids fishing events to in-classroom programs, on-site classroom programs and teacher development sessions.
Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center offers a variety of public programs year-round for all ages, including shooting sports, wildlife conservation, fishing, plant identification and more. Most public programs are free, but pre-registration may be required since space is limited.
Kids Fishing Events (2nd - 6th grade)
Kids Fishing Events provide children the opportunity to get "hooked" on fishing! Staff provide basic fishing instruction, gear, bait and a special event pond (catch and release only). One adult chaperone for every five children is required for ages eight and up and for every three children under age eight. These events are free, but pre-registration is required (50 student maximum/day).
Cost: These events are free (max. 50 students/day) unless combined with a Discovery Center program (in which Discovery Center fees apply).
Outreach Programs (3rd - 7th grade)
Live animals in the classroom are a wonderful way to introduce students to Georgia's wildlife diversity and cover state-required Georgia Performance Standards. Five outreach programs are available to schools within a 90-minute drive from Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center (Mansfield, GA), which includes Atlanta, Athens, and Macon.
Each one-hour program includes demonstrations and live animals. Staff can visit up to three classes per day (max. 40 students per class). Available programs topics include: Vertebrates, Aquatic Ecology, Birds of Prey, Endangered Species, and Reptiles. Program scheduling begins in early August for the following school year, so call early!
Cost: $120 per classroom program ONLY for schools within a 90-minute drive from Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center (Mansfield, GA). Staff can visit up to three classes (40 students/class maximum) per day. Auditorium programming is also available.
Outreach programs are also provided on a limited basis for civic groups, scouts, and special events.
For further details or to schedule an outreach visit, contact Pete Griffin at 770.784.3059 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On-Site Day Programs (K - 5th Grade)
The Brooke Ager Discovery Area offers a hands-on and multi-disciplinary approach to wildlife education where students use science, social studies, math, and reading comprehension skills while exploring nature in a fun and rewarding way. This three-part field trip covers required GPS topics for up to 50 students at a time. Teachers may book these 3 (1-hour class) options.
*Teachers also be sure to give an inclement weather option, in case some of the activities outdoors cannot happen on the scheduled field trip date.
Brooke Ager Discovery Area Program Descriptions (Grades K-2)
Students will get up close and personal with some of Georgia’s native turtle species and do activities that demonstrate their adaptations within one of Georgia’s 5 ecoregions. The Lake at the Brooke Ager Discovery Area provides the perfect backdrop in these lessons.
GPS Standards: S1L1; SKL2; S5L1; S4L1
Ever wonder how the backbone operates and why only some animals have them? What makes this particular adaptation important? In this lesson, Students will get a first-hand look into Georgia’s native animals that contain backbones and do experiments to understand how a spine operates.
GPS Standards: SKL2
Students will get a chance to become explorers of their backyard. Lessons in observation and the first steps of the scientific method will be done on the Brooke Ager Discovery Area lawn. Students will do an outdoor scavenger hunt and investigate relationships. Guided inquiries will allow them make comparisons between wild and domestic animals.
GPS Standards: SKCS3; SKL2; S1L1; SKS6; S1CS7; S1CS3; S2CS7; S2CS6
Nature Story time:
Here the students will be read a story from one of the titles listed below by a naturalist and given hands-on lessons about ecology and conservation that the story contains.
Book Titles to choose from:
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
- Clifford’s 1st Autumn by Norman Bridwell
- My Best Nest by Ree Dellinger
- Other titles available on request
GPS Standards: SKP1
Do you know which Georgia snakes are venomous and which are harmless? Using live animal teaching aids, students will learn about the adaptations of these reptiles and learn what makes them well suited for Georgia’s ecosystems and part of .
GPS Standards: S1L1, S5L1, S4L1
Pond Study: (April 1st-November 15th)
A pond investigation provides the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the connections and food webs within an ecosystem. By searching with nets, using field guides, and guided observation students gain skills and discover the adaptations of some amazing aquatic creatures. They also will learn how some animals are indicators of water quality.
GPS Standards: S6E3, SKCS6, S4L1, S5P1
What makes a seed and why are seeds so different from each other? Students will be given basic lessons in seed dispersal and why a forest has high plant diversity. Students will also learn the parts of a seed and what is needed to make a plant grow.
GPS Standards: SKL2, S1L1, S4L2, S4L1, S2L1
Students will Develop sensory awareness while learning basic identification of leaves and parts of a plant.
GPS Standards: SCS1, SKL2, SKP1, S1L1, S2L1, SKE2, S4L1
For Grades 3-6. We can book can book any of the above programs for your school if your classes are at these grade levels, you also have these options.
Kids Fishing Events (April-October) See above description
What makes up a habitat? Who needs habitat? Students will see an array of habitats while hiking at Charlie Elliott. They will also get a close up and interactive look into the diversity of life that occurs within macro and micro habitats.
GPS Standards: S6E3; S3L1, S3CS7, S4L2, S5L4
Tree ID Hike:
Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center’s wooded setting provides the perfect opportunity to study our native forests. During this interactive hike, students will learn how to identify trees using structural characteristics and field guides. GPS Standards: S5L1, S3L1, S4L1, S4L2, S5L1, S5L4.
Grab some binoculars and get set for some bird diversity at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center! Children will learn to use a field guide while identifying several of Georgia’s native bird species. They will learn the basics of this leisurely outdoor recreational activity, learning how to identify birds by sight and sound.
GPS Standards: S5CS3, S4L1, S5L1
Students will get a basic perspective in some scientific writing when they create their own nature journal. Just like many famous scientists and conservationists, students will gather their observations and hypotheses through a journal. Join naturalists on an interpretive hike through Charlie Elliott’s forests, ponds, and fields and discover several details on noting Georgia’s habitats and wildlife.
GPS Standards: S5CS8, S5CS5, S6CS8, S6CS9, S3L1
Insect Adaptations (April 1st-November 15th):
Students visit the pond, forest, and field searching for and comparing the insects that play a key role in those ecosystems. During the exploration, students discover the unique adaptations of pollinators, decomposers, and why they are important.
GPS Standards: S3L1, S3L2, S4L1, S4L2, S5L1
Custom programs also are available. Please contact us and we will create an engaging program that suits your needs.
Registration at a Glance
- Number of Students Brooke Ager Discovery Area can accommodate up to 50 students per day.
- Program Cost $5.00 per student/day with a $60.00 per day deposit.
- Deposits are deducted from the total charge.
- There is a $120.00 minimum fee for all groups.
Program Time K - 2nd grade: 9:30-12:00; 3rd - 5th grade: 9:30-1:30
Monthly homeschool programs offered during the school year. The center’s forests, lakes and streams provide an excellent setting for outdoor learning. The indoor classrooms and live animals enhance the experience by providing up-close wildlife encounters.
The drop-off program is designed for the home-schooled student, emphasizing peer cooperation along with individual exploration. Each program covers a different topic, but all programs include hands-on learning, self-discovery, and outdoor fun. Through hikes, experiments, games, and investigation, we will uncover the secrets of Georgia’s wildlife and habitats.
Registration for our curriculum program is at our visitor's center where you will be given paperwork and will be able to make payment. We take our registrations on a first-come, first serve basis upon arrival when the dates of registration open each year. Come early as registration fills up quickly. On that day you will need to bring either an immunization record signed by a doctor, or if you wish to opt out for any reason, fill out this affidavit.
Homeschool Field Days:
This is an amazing opportunity for parents and kids to learn while being outdoors. Four times during the year, Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center offers homeschool field days where parents and kids come to a themed day and get hands-on while being in the outdoors. This is not a drop-off program and comes with variable prices. There is also a limit of 4 children per one adult present (if you have more than four children another adult must be present). For more information contact Amber Barrow at email@example.com.
October: Sweet Science
It is time to use that old Halloween candy for some science. Kids and parents will come together and become “Mad Scientists” and use candy for tons of experimentation that covers multiple science topics. Each participant will have a notebook that they are responsible for keeping track of how their experiments turn out. If they complete a notebook, at the end their maybe a Halloween surprise waiting for them. Minimum age: 6 years old.
December: Gifts from Nature
Prepare for the holidays using nature in mind. We will use natural objects and things found around Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center to make several presents that kids can take to their family members as gifts for the holiday season. Presents in the past have included paracord bracelets, handmade jewelry, bird feeders, and cell phone chargers. Minimum age: 8 years old.
February: All about Birds
This gives kids the opportunity to learn more about our feathered friends. Kids get a fun bird based field day with activities that relate to migration, bird anatomy and they can learn their basic birding skills. Parents will start the morning getting trained in Flying WILD curricula and will become certified educators in the material. This occurs right before the Great Backyard Bird Count so everyone can participate in some citizen science. Afterwards we will have a mini International Migratory Bird Day festival with opportunities where you can have a festival with you co-op, association, or family gathering. Minimum age: 6 years old.
April: Nature Exploration:
Kids will get a chance to explore the woods as Charlie Elliott did in his youth and learn what it is like to become a naturalist and explore the parts of nature that surrounds us during our everyday lives. Parents will be trained in Growing UP WILD curricula and will become certified educators and will be able to use the training for education beyond our field day. Afterwards we will offer a kids fishing event for the new naturalists.*
*If in inclement weather we will have a rain option instead of the kids fishing.
Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center
543 Elliott Trail
Mansfield, Ga. 30055