ADA compliant-facility supports tourism for the county and community.
Johnston Community College on Thursday celebrated the opening of a new cabin at Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center.
The cabin cost is $171,916.01 and is funded from three sources -- $50,000 from Johnston County Visitors Bureau Grant; $50,000 from JCC Foundation’s Howell Woods Endowment; and $71,916.01 from JCC’s capital budget provided by Johnston County.
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew destroyed one of three existing lodging facilities (a 45-year-old residence house) at Howell Woods. The new cabin complies with American Disabilities Act regulations, sleeps 16 and includes a fully furnished kitchen, two bunkrooms, washer and dryer, and two bathrooms.
With the addition of the third cabin, Howell Woods will now have the capacity to house 32 individuals overnight in three bunk-style lodging facilities, impacting tourism for the county and the community.
“Mr. Rudolph Howell’s vison for Howell Woods was for it to be used as an outdoor classroom for environmental education as well as a place for the public to be able to come and recreate,” said Jordan Astoske, Howell Woods director. “The addition of the cabin will allow us to attract larger organizations to participate in company retreats, team building activities and programs and activities at Howell Woods.”
In 1995, Rudolph A. Howell, a member of the Johnston Community College Board of Trustees and major benefactor to Johnston Community College Foundation, donated over 2,800 acres of land on the Neuse River to the College. Now called the Rudolph Howell and Son Environmental Learning Center (Howell Woods) is thought to be the largest gift ever donated to a North Carolina community college by a private citizen.
In December 2005, Howell donated over $1 million for Howell Woods half of which is endowed for the perpetual preservation of the center located at 6601 Devil’s Racetrack Road in the Bentonville community of southeastern Johnston County.
Howell Woods currently offers numerous environmental education classes throughout the year on a variety of topics including bird watching, bird migration, nature discovery hike, bird feeder building, geocaching, night safari, and guided Neuse River kayak trips. Howell Woods also offers day camps, school field trips, a summer camp for kids, and a low-ropes course for teambuilding. The property is also home to a Learning Center, which showcases live exhibits of native reptiles and birds of prey.
Cut line: Pictured from left are Dr. Twyla Wells, executive director of the JCC Foundation; Scott Henley, chair of the Johnston County Tourism Authority; Butch Lawter, JCC trustee and county commissioner; David Johnson, JCC president; Lyn Austin, chair of the JCC Board of Trustees; Owen Daughtry, JCC alum; Donna Bailey-Taylor, president and CEO, Johnston County Visitors Bureau; and N.C. Rep. Larry Strickland.