New TGO Nature Center

The Birth of the New TGO Nature Center


After the demolition of the beloved  “Old TGO Nature Center”, any other community might have become despondent but several TGO residents rallied together to see what could be built from the “ashes”.  It was not easy.

Many people had to be convinced of what a new TGO Nature Center could be. Money had to be raised and/or donations “in kind” solicited. A new site had be found, which would fit into any future TGO/CSA development, including the Developer’s plans for “Hidden Lakes”. Any design had to be acceptable to all of the local conservation and building authorities. There were many competing voices, with differing visions and priorities, and many intertwined rules and regulations. Somehow, a few determined “nature enthusiasts” persisted and accomplished what many thought impossible.

While all of this was going on, the Nature Committee and its members kept meeting and participating in TGO activities.

Eventually, Jim Swann was convinced to help and proposed a site acceptable to the St. Johns River Management District. Road access and utilities had to be supplied, in conjunction with future TGO and CSA requirements. And a builder had to be found. One who could design and construct one of the most unique structures in TGO. The new TGO Nature Center is hurricane resistant and built mainly out of concrete and metal but in a clever way to imitate a traditional log building.

Shown below is the chosen site in its natural state. This property, which was donated by Jim Swann, is located next to the historic Addison Canal. The entrance is beside the bridge connecting “Hammock Oaks” to “Hidden Lakes”. Click here to see a map of The Great Outdoors RV Resort and find the new Nature Center. Then come and visit!

Through the kind efforts of Mike Fontana, there is a picture history of the whole construction process. Shown below are just a few of his many interesting photos.


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Nature Center Building Site


The photo above shows the building site of the new TGO Nature Center.


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Ground Breaking Ceremony


The photo above is the ground breaking ceremony for the new TGO Nature Center.  Pictured from left are Jim Brubaker, Sandy Juba, Bill Grogg, Loretta Anne’ and Terry Carlson.


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Southern Heritage Builders


Southern Heritage Construction Corporation was the builder of the new TGO Nature Center.


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The Concrete Walls Go Up


The new TGO Nature Center is built with concrete.  Later you will see photos of the finished building that has been painted to look like the building is made of wood planks.


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We Now Have Walls And A Roof


The building gets a roof!

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The Inside Is Starting To Take Shape


The interior of the building is beginning to be defined by walls.  The wall directly in front in the photo above is the wall which will separate the TGO Nature Center museum and library.


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Future TGO Nature Center Meeting Room


The photo above shows the construction progress in what will become our meeting room. We hold Board of Directors meetings, member “Communication” meetings and we offer the space for use to groups within The Great Outdoors community.


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The New TGO Nature Center Building Is Looking Good!


Another photo of the construction progress on one of our beautiful Central Florida days.


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Completed TGO Nature Center Building


The new TGO Nature Center building is complete and beautiful!


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TGO Nature Center Sign


The photo above shows the new TGO Nature Center sign located at the entrance road.


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Road To New TGO Nature Center


The photo below shows the gravel road leading up to the new TGO Nature Center building.


On July 25, 2009, the “New TGO Nature Center” was given its Certificate of Occupancy. During the Weekend of November 6-8th, the Grand Opening Ceremonies were held. On Friday Evening, there was the “Official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony” and a wine & cheese party for all of the Charter Donors, which was kindly sponsered by TGO Realty. Judy Willeke and the “gang” put on a spectacular evening. The Saturday events were sponsored by Eagles Pride, C&D Golf Carts (now Golfcarts Unlimited), Trimmers Hair Salon and Linda & Charlie Utz. Riverside Bank (now TD Bank) sponsored the Sunday events. Home Depot came both days to put on gardening clinics and plant giveaways. It was truly a gala weekend and was well attended by all TGO Residents.


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Our Beautiful New TGO Nature Center


Here is what one community can accomplish by pulling together.   The photo above shows our completed new TGO Nature Center Building.  Isn’t it beautiful?  It sits in a picturesque location on the bank of the Addison Canal.


TGO Nature Center, T.G. Carlson, nature, building, museum, library, ribbon, cutting, ceremony

TGO Nature Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


The photo above  captured the new TGO Nature Center ribbon cutting ceremony.  Pictured from left to right for the “Official Ribbon Cutting” are Jim Swann, Paul Kosieracki, Sandy Juba (cutting the ribbon), Terry Carlson and Loretta Anné.

TGO Nature Center Charter Donors


The new TGO Nature Center would not have been possible without the many generous monetary donations.  Thank You!

Terry Carlson generously donated $170,000 which allowed the project to go forward to completion.  In recognition, the new building is formally known as: ” The T.G. Carlson Nature Center”.  The photo below is of  the The T.G. Carlson Nature Center sign over the building entrance.


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T.G. Carlson Nature Center Building Sign


In recognition of their generous donations, the following donors have their names permanently engraved on “Plaques of Appreciation” along the main entrance wall of the T.G. Carlson Nature Center building.

Bald Eagle
$25,000 and above

Carlson, Terry
EKS, Inc.

Great Horned Owl
Platinum – $10,000 and above

Grogg, Bill & Judy
Juba, Sandy & Jack
Purcell, Judy
Rose, Jim & Sharon
TGO Realty

Great Blue Heron
Gold – $5,000 and above

Maury, Rich & Cheryl
Marr, Virginia

Sandhill Crane
Silver – $1,000 and above

Buck, Jim & Sandy
Bukowick, Al & Ella
Crichton, Dick & Jean
Davis, Herb & Lillian
Hathaway, Roy & Marie-Louise
Henn, Ann/Raney, Clair
Hessler, Hal & Kim
Merow, Sue (In memory of Larry Merow)
Phillips, Pam (In memory of Ralph Phillips)
Slagh, Vern & Mary
Somers, Chuck & Linda
TGO Hookers
TGO Quilters
Thomsen, Andreas & Francisca
Walters, Ken (In memory of Scott Walters)
Wilson, Nan/Stevens, Gary

Pewter – $500 and above

Berkowitz, Tad
Brown, Anne
Devries, Lou & Tammy
Eagles Pride
Finney, John & Cora
Hawko, Sally-Ann
Hommel, Nelson & Carole
Hopper, Randy & Mary
McDaniel, Larry & Gwen
Miller, Clayton/Truitt, April
Mumma, Dick & Ruth
Murphy, Bernard & Lorraine
Nelson, Ron & Sandy
Newcomb, Richard & Delanie
Nordstrom, Vern & Jan
Pirson, Herb & Evelyn
Plotkin, Valerie/Anderson, Jim (In memory of
Engelbert & Sydney Bach)
Runkle, Dennis & Debbie
Tomsu, Doug & Becky
Valaskey, James
Vucci, Michael & Josephine
Whitehill, Bill & Jennifer
Willeke, Bob & Judy
Williams, Bill & Jane


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A Completed Building We Are All Proud Of


Over the years since the TGO Nature Center building was constructed, we have added museum displays and nature related books, pamphlets, brochures, DVDs and videos to the library .  The nature center building is open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. seven days a week.  All residents and renters of The Great Outdoors and their guests are invited to explore this unique nature center.

TGO Nature Center – “Living in Harmony with Nature

Contact Us

To reserve the meeting room, contact:

Josiah Monk at Recreation Services for reservations on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Loretta Anne’ for all other times.