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Clayton residents enjoy nature and Wild Azalea Festival

Nicholas Wahrmann, left, observes Millie the alligator with his brothers, Ryan and Jonathan Wahrmann, during the Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve Saturday. Millie was one of the reptiles on display at the Cochran Mills Nature Center booth. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

Nicholas Wahrmann, left, observes Millie the alligator with his brothers, Ryan and Jonathan Wahrmann, during the Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve Saturday. Millie was one of the reptiles on display at the Cochran Mills Nature Center booth. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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Jonesboro youth Nigel Johnson, 5, tests his skills with a toy gun in the “shooting gallery” at the Department of Natural Resources’ hunting education booth during the Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve Saturday. Looking on are Johnson’s mother, Andrea Seay, right, and fellow festival attendee Ryan Wahrmann. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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Zoo Atlanta education instructor Chase Osborne, left, shows off an alligator to attendees at the Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve in Morrow Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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Jonesboro siblings Khloe Jacobo, from left, and Kayden Jacobo play a trivia game with their cousin, Dayzon Brathwaite at the Georgia Aquarium booth during the Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve Saturday. Also pictures is aquarium volunteer Linda Flinn. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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A father talks to his sons about aquatic wildlife during the Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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A bearded dragon observes his surroundings at the Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserves Saturday. The dragon was one of the reptiles on display at the Cochran Mills Nature Center booth. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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Georgia Department of Natural Resources instructor Mike Tallant explains to Jonesboro youth Nigel Johnson the differences between various types of animal furs during the Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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Clayton State University natural sciences professor Steven Burnette explains how bats work to a group of children during the Wild Azalea Festival at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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A box turtle tries to retreat into its shell while being held up for display at the Cochran Mills Nature Center booth during the Wild Azalea Festival Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

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Department of Natural Resources instructor Mike Tallant explains hunting practices to children during the Wild Azalea Festival Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

MORROW — Nicholas Wahrmann and his brothers, Ryan and Jonathan, got up close and personal with “Millie” at the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve in Morrow Saturday.

Well, they got as close as they could with a thin plate of glass separating them from the little lady covered in scales. “Millie,” however, wasn’t paying any attention. She kept her back turned to the kids as she kept her head just above water in her tank.

Nicholas Wahrmann was particularly interested in “Millie” — who is an alligator — and he kept examining her to see what she would do next.

“He loves the reptiles,” his mother, Nadia Wahrmann said.

The Wahrmann family were among hundreds of people who attended the Wild Azalea Festival at the nature preserve over the weekend.

The event included interactive booths featuring several nature-related organizations around metro Atlanta. Among the participants were Zoo Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium, Clayton County Master Gardeners, Audubon Society, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Clayton County Humane Society, Clayton State University’s Natural Sciences Department, Cochran Mills Nature Center, Clayton County Farm Bureau, Tara Beekeepers and Clayton County Parks and Recreation.

Participants were asked several questions along the way and they got a free T-shirt if they turned in a form with all of the correct answers at the end of the festival.

“It was good because we got to answer all of these questions and see different animals,” said Nicholas Wahrmann, 8.

Jonesboro youth Khloe Jacobo, 4, echoed Wahrmann’s sentiments about the educational component of the event. “I liked answering the questions because they were fun,” she said.

Another Jonesboro youth, Nigel Johnson, 5, said his favorite booth was the Department of Natural Resources station, where instructor Mike Tallant taught visitors about various types of animal furs. Tallant also let children shoot a rubber band gun in his “shooting gallery” hunting simulation box.

“I liked shooting the gun and getting to feel the raccoon fur because it was soft,” said Johnson.

For parents like Nadia Wahrmann and Andrea Seay, who is Johnson’s mother, the festival was an opportunity to expose their children to science while enjoying a fun family day out in the community.

When Johnson picked up a nut that he found on one of the nature preserve’s trails, Seay used it as an opportunity to further stimulate his intellectual growth.

“What kind of a nut do you think it is?” she asked her son. “Let’s take it home and crack it open so we can investigate it.”