0

Hampton students tour local wetland habitats

Special Photo 
Fifth- and sixth-graders from Bible Baptist Christian School view a water snake in its natural habitat, during a recent tour of the Clayton County Water Authority's Newman Wetlands Center, in Hampton.

Special Photo Fifth- and sixth-graders from Bible Baptist Christian School view a water snake in its natural habitat, during a recent tour of the Clayton County Water Authority's Newman Wetlands Center, in Hampton.

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The small water snakes left an impression on the 25 young people from Bible Baptist Christian School in Hampton.

"Seeing the snakes, that was cool," said sixth-grader, Joanna Jarrell. "It's not like when you go to the zoo and see them in a cage, they were in their natural habitat."

Fifth- and sixth-graders from Bible Baptist toured Clayton County Water Authority's (CCWA) Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center in Hampton. The classes were treated to the field trip on the first of two inclement weather make-up days, during what would have been the school's

week-long Spring Break.

The students traversed the sun-drenched half-mile loop through wetlands and woodlands in southeast Clayton County recently. They also toured the 3,000 sq. ft. Newman Wetlands Center. The center complex also includes an additional 50-seat auditorium, offices, and a conference facility on some 32 acres of marshlands.

"The center is an interpretive building with displays and interactive exhibits based on environmental and wetlands education," said Guy Pihera, water production manager at CCWA.

Pihera said the center -- open since 1995 -- offers school groups and individuals lessons on the importance of wetlands for wildlife habitats, and how their preservation impacts the quality of consumable water.

Many youngsters, Pihera said, are surprised when they first visit the center, adding they had no idea that wetlands were "in their back yard."

"It was educational but fun," said Joanna Jarrell, 12. "We got to see all the stuff we learned about."

Bible Baptist fifth-graders have been learning about bogs, wetlands, and marshes. Sixth-graders took lessons about plant life, as well as animals and their habitats, according to sixth-grade teacher, Dinah Beck.

"This was just an excellent learning tool," said Beck. "I just loved that every single move you made out on the boardwalk [at the center] you would see something different. It's a fascinating place to see a variety of plants and animals."

Beck said the students saw several snakes, turtles, and birds along the walking path. They also saw a deer in wetland reserve, where they received a lecture on the importance of wetlands to Georgia.

"It was just neat," the teacher added. "It really gave the kids keen awareness to protect the wetlands, plants, and animals in their habitats."

Clayton County Water Authority's Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center is open Monday, through Friday, year round, and on some Saturdays in the summer. To learn more, visit www.ccwa.us.