Turtle Point hosts Environmental Day
By By Robert Blankenship
Special to the Advance
Turtle Point Science Center will come to life with wildlife, magic and music as it is set to host "Celebrate the Environment Day" on Saturday.
Through a mixture of entertainment and education, the Flomaton science center will present a variety of programs that are fun for both adults and students. The event is free of charge and will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m.
The programs are designed to teach guests about Alabama's wildlife and the importance of preserving the environment.
Saturday's event will mark the second Celebrate the Environment Day held at the science center in the past three years. Jackie Word, teacher and wildlife biologist at the center, said this year's program is sure to be bigger and better.
"This year's event will feature many more programs and guests," Word said. "We feel that we have a great day planned and expect a great crowd."
From hummingbirds to snakes, Turtle Point will feature guests who are experts in their fields.
"We feel that the presenters are authorities in their subjects and can offer guests a wide range of information on wildlife and preservation," Word said.
Those at the science center hope that the event will help others develop an interest in nature and conservation.
"We want people to be aware of the wonderful resources we have here in Alabama," Word said. "We hope that this event will help students and adults develop an interest in nature and bring to light the balance needed between using our resources and conservation."
The programs are designed to entertain while they educate and one of the best examples may be environmental magician Steve Trash.
Trash, who describes himself as an "illusionist, eco-entertainer and kid's comedian" has appeared on the CBS This Morning show and has been on the cover of student magazine "Weekly Reader."
Trash graduated with a degree in theatre from the University of North Alabama in 1984 and he spent the next eight years working as a "busker" or street performer in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. In 1990 Steve developed a theatrical show called simply "Trash." It ran for eight weeks in Hollywood and was called "The best of the weekend" by the Los Angeles Times. He recently produced a kid's TV show called "Trash TV."
"It's the kind of trash on TV you want your kids to watch," he said.
Another entertaining program will feature Frank Lister and Sequoyah, a band that features music about Alabama's unique environment.
Together for 15 years, Sequoyah wrote "Alabama is Her Name" for the 1989 Alabama Jubilee. Now the band is entering a new phase of environmentalism with many new songs such as "Everybody Lives Downstream" and "This Old Tree."
Sequoyah performs in a variety of styles for children and adults and uses a variety of musical instruments.
While some use music and magic to educate, wildlife educator Nonie Maines brings the real thing – real animals that is.
Deeming herself an "edutainer," Maines program features small exotic pets that were discarded by their owners. Much like a commonly known zoo mobile, she travels around communities presenting her "Ambassadors of the Wild."
Calloway Gardens will also feature "Earthquest Birds of Prey." An eagle will be part of that demonstration scheduled for 11:30 a.m. The presentation by the same group at 9 a.m. will not feature the eagle.
Another speaker, Debbi McCollum, brings extensive knowledge and experience on nature throughout the Southeast. She graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. in wildlife biology and a master of education in secondary science.
She is currently working on a degree in landscape design and certification as a master gardener. She has also started her own business, Gardens by Debbi, a company dedicated to environmental education, creation of backyard wildlife habitats and other specialty gardens.
McCollum will be presenting a program on the "Snakes of Alabama" during her program at Turtle Point.
Al Schotz is currently an ecologist with the Alabama Natural Heritage Program in Montgomery, a position that he has held for nearly eight years. Over the past 10 years he has acquired a keen appreciation and understanding of the plant life and the mosaic of natural environments that have come to make the Southeast so unique.
The focus of his presentation at Turtle Point will highlight the biological richness of Escambia County and surrounding areas along the Gulf Coastal Plain.
Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and a free lunch will be provided while supplies last.
A children's activity tent will also be open throughout the day.
Shirley West, director of the center, said the event is a wonderful opportunity for local residents.
"We feel like we have a wonderful program planned and want to encourage families to visit the center and enjoy the entertainment and programs," West said.
Following is a schedule of events for Saturday's Celebrate the Environment Day:
9 a.m. – Everything you always wanted to know about hummingbirds, Bob and Martha Sargent, TPESC Classroom; Sequoyah and Frank Lister children's program, Tent A; and Earthquest Birds of Prey Education Program, Tent B;
10 a.m. – Southern Yellow Pines – Alabama's Historic Trees, Fred Nation, TPESC Classroom; and Boardwalk Tour with Darryl Searcy;
10:30 a.m. – Steve Trash, Tent A; Nonie's Ark Animal Encounters, Tent B;
11 a.m. – Snakes of Alabama, Debbi McCollum, TPESC Classroom;
11:30 a.m. – Earthquest Birds of Prey Presentation
noon – Termite program, Xing Ping Hu, TPESC Classroom; and Sequoyah and Frank Lister adult program, Tent A;
12:30 p.m. – Nonie's Ark Animal Encounters, Tent B;
1 p.m. – The History of Roses, Darryl Searcy, TPESC Classroom; Boardwalk Tour with Frank Nation; and Awards Ceremony, Tent A;
1:30 p.m. – Steve Trash, Tent A;
2 p.m. – Everything you always wanted to know about hummingbirds, Bob and Martha Sargent, TPESC Classroom;
2:30 p.m. – The Montgomery Zoo educational program, Tent B; and
3 p.m. – Al Schotz, botanist, TPESC Classroom.
Many Escambia County businesses are sponsoring the event. The sponsors are: Air Products, BankTrust of Brewton, Best Western of Atmore, Days Inn of Atmore, Escambia County Bank, Flomaton Funeral Home, Food Fair of Atmore, Gil Bonner's Huddle House, Gregg's Salon, Gulf Coast RC&D, Jeff's Feed and Farm Supply, Johnnie's Cleaners Legacy, Inc. – Partners in Environmental Education, Panhandle Restaurant of Century, Pepsi of Atmore, Piggly Wiggly of Century, Royal Oaks Bed &Breakfast, Senator Pat Lindsey, The First National Bank of Atmore, The Friends of Turtle Point Volunteers, Town Of Flomaton, Tri-City Family Pharmacy, United Bank, Wal-Mart of Brewton and Winn Dixie of Atmore.