Planning for Playcard Environmental Education Center began in 1981 with the establishment of the Horry County Conservation Foundation.
The founders were men in farming, government, and business, all with agricultural connections, all convinced that Horry's natural resources must be wisely used to protect future generations. James P. Blanton, James E. Griffith, Shelton T. Hayes, S.F. Horton, Ernest W. Johnston, Jr., Sam B. McQueen, Robert L. Squires, Ardent L. Stephens, and W.D. Witherspoon drafted a straightforward statement of purpose: "to provide sufficient data, analysis, and publicity so the people of Horry County understand the condition of the county's natural resources and realize the need for effective conservation.
The Foundation supported projects aimed at teaching adults and children to understand, appreciate and protect the natural world in which we live. A connection with the educational system existed from the beginning.
Playcard Center was established in 1987, an outgrowth of the Foundation's mission. After securing two hundred acres of land along Playcard Swamp by purchase and long term lease, the Foundation invited a group of educators, professionals from agricultural agencies and interested citizens to become members of a Board of Directors to govern the operation of the Center. A building, constructed on high land at the edge of the swamp on Highway 19 just off Highway 410, has a large classroom, a small office, restrooms, and a kitchen -- plain, practical, efficient -- and already inadequate.
The completed building was introduced to the public at Swampfest '87, the first annual open house. Horry County School District agreed to provide a teacher to conduct classes on-site and Coastal Carolina College to use the facility for research and teaching and to put aside funds for an administrative position. The Center calendar already has every available teaching day booked. Thousands of public and private school students have visited Playcard for instruction. Many of their teachers have attended special workshops at the Center.
Playcard Center became independent of the Horry County Conservation Foundation in 1989 when South Carolina chartered it as a not-for-profit corporation. An application for tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service has been approved, FEIN 57-0895958.
In January 1990, the Foundation and the Center entered into a lease which allows the Center to manage the property and conduct the educational activities of the Center.
CAPITAL ASSETS: Playcard Environmental Education Center's 200-acre site is valued at $125,000 with 80 acres purchased; 120 acres leased on a long-term basis. An additional 115 acres of private land is available for Playcard use. The classroom building is valued at $75,000.