Upbeat music and the smell of savory bar food filled the space between Akademia Brewing Company’s mural-filled walls on Monday, Nov. 18. While customers lining the semi-circle bar and occupying the tables denote a typical night at the restaurant and brewery, Sandy Creek Nature Center program specialists holding snakes and turtles isn’t a typical sight.
Children attending the event touched biofact objects such as raccoon skulls and beaver furs which rested on the tables and dashed around the room, while their guardians enjoyed one of Akademia’s cocktails or beers. Animals of the Night, the brewpub’s second percentage night with Sandy Creek Nature Center, brought together community collaboration and craft beer for charity.
“It gets kids away from the ‘let’s look and not touch’ and gives them an opportunity to get their hands dirty and be out in nature,” said Kate Mowbray, a specialist for Sandy Creek Nature Center.
Anna Riley, the house manager for Akademia and the mother of a 2-year-old child, said business on the Athens West Side serves as a center for the community. With the belief that the Sandy Creek Nature Center, which boasts 225 acres of woodlands and wetlands, serves a similar purpose, the brewpub donated 5% of its Monday night proceeds to the Athens-Clarke County facility to construct a Nature Playscape. Riley said the brewpub wanted to embrace community additions which help families like hers.
Mowbray said the Nature Playscape, which will hopefully be built this winter or early spring, will provide children with a safe outdoor playspace that they may not have access to in their own backyards.
Mowbray hopes Sandy Creek Nature Center’s second fundraiser with Akademia will bring awareness to both the brewpub and the center.
Michelle Cash, a program specialist at the Sandy Creek Nature Center, said the live animals, skulls and furs on display at Animals of the Night are intended to help familiarize Athenians with local species.
“We work with Athens-Clarke County school kids, ages kindergarten through sixth grade and they’ll go in the woods with us expecting to see monkeys or moose,” Cash said. “Getting them to see what’s in their backyard is really important.”
Riley said in addition to continuing fundraising efforts with Sandy Creek Nature Center, Akademia wants to continue to support the community through partnerships with local charities such as Bear Hollow Zoo, St. Joseph’s School, The Cottage and Extra Special People.
“We want to support them and they want to support us so that we can continue business and activities like this in our community,” Riley said.