Richard F. Hazel, Eastern Shore philanthropist and former president of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Salisbury, loved the outdoors. More importantly, he loved seeing kids connect with nature at his “farm” on Cooper Road in Eden, Maryland.
An avid sportsman until his untimely passing in February 2008, Mr. Hazel spent much of his free time at his 500+ acre preserve. With his friends and family, he maintained the property as a haven for wildlife, including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and endangered Delmarva fox squirrels. While he enjoyed his quiet mornings hunting alone on his farm, Mr. Hazel truly enjoyed lending the property to scouts and youth groups for a variety of daytime activities and overnight camping experiences.
Mr. Hazel knew the value of outdoor experiences for kids long before the concept of “nature deficit disorder.” He knew that spending time outdoors was good for kids’ mental and physical health. To ensure that his farm would always serve as a natural location for kids to get outside, he established a foundation to maintain the property in perpetuity.
The Hazel Foundation is very pleased to honor the legacy of Richard Hazel through the establishment of the Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center (HODC). Mr. Hazel’s vision was to provide a place where children of all races and walks of life can come together to discover common ground and experience the beauty of nature, as well as be introduced to the sport of hunting and the preservation of nature. The mission of the HODC is to provide opportunities to explore and celebrate nature, and to promote harmony between all people through natural experiences. Thanks to Mr. Hazel’s generosity and vision, the HODC is made available to scout and youth groups at no cost.
Richard Hazel will be remembered for years to come for his generosity to the Eastern Shore. His legacy and giving spirit remain alive at the Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center.
I strongly encourage all youth organization leaders to plan a trip to the Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center. There is no better place to encourage youth fellowship and appreciation for the outdoors than the HODC.
Teachers need outdoor classrooms to make nature come alive for students. The Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center is a wonderful field trip destination for local schools.
Richard Hazel has always been a friend of scouting. The Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center is a natural tribute to Mr. Hazel’s love for children, scouting, and the outdoors.
With competition from television, video games, and the internet, we need places like the Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center to turn kids on to nature. The HODC is your kids’ cure for nature deficit disorder.
Get Outdoors Day has been canceled. The event was scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 30. The grounds are too waterlogged from the rain this past week. We hope to see you in 2024!
The Hazel Foundation Board of Directors
Pictured from Left to Right: Gary Desjardins, Gil Allen, Kevin Les Callette, Allen Brown, Martin Hutchison, Colleen Hazel, and Jay Pearce. Not pictured: Morgan Hazel and David Morris.