Although Earth Day is technically not until Friday, April 22nd we kicked it off a bit early on Saturday, April 16th by “Shell-ebrating” with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island.  When we first saw the advertisement for the event we simply thought that it would be a nice opportunity for us to go and check out the center.  Driving onto Jekyll Island we recognized the turtle markings on the road and knew we had to follow them to our destination.  When we arrived there and saw all the tents set up outside we knew we were in for a special treat!

Of course when we first got there we all had to take a potty break (I mean come on it is an hour drive down and we had coffee or chocolate milk on the way).  Even the bathroom’s at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GASTC will be the acronym I use for the rest of the blog) were painted and covered in murals of educational information.

After reliving ourselves we purchased our tickets and headed into the museum portion of the GASTC.  As soon as we walked in a volunteer greeted us asking if it was our first visit.  She gave us little sheets of paper with five stations on it and told us that at each station there were embossing stamps and to pick one and then look above to see what it said.  This interactive part of the museum makes you pretend that you are a turtle.  It takes you from where your eggs were laid all the way to how long your life expectancy will be.  Along the way there were videos and other interactive stations to show the tough life of a turtle.  There were some other stations that gave tips to how you can help the turtles.  My favorite was the one that showed what washed up pieces of trash look like and how long it takes something to decompose.  I’m all about promoting recycling and making it an educational tool so that children of all ages can be more mindful about how they treat the environment.

When we were done in the main part of the museum we headed over to the hospital section.  There were various sizes tanks holding various sizes of turtles that were all rescued.  Each turtle was named and had a sheet saying where it was found, how it became injured and what treatment it is undergoing.  Though she was a bit frightened of the big turtles, she loved the little ones and was fascinated with what happened to each of the turtle.  She asked the volunteers so many questions and obviously learned something because still days later she’s telling people: “the turtle got hurt by the crab and the doctors are helping her get better.”  We were so impressed with the GASTC hospital and the amazing things they are doing to help rehabilitate the turtles that we’ve decided to adopt a turtle for Sophia.

After exploring the GASTC we headed out into the courtyard where they had tons of tents and tables set up with various activities and information for children of all ages.  Displayed below is a collage of the various activities that Sophia participated in and mind you she didn’t go to every station there!  Tedy was still a bit too little to participate in everything but he did enjoy himself, flirting with some of the lady volunteers and petting the dogs that were there from the humane society.  Sophia on the other hand got to:

  • Color & wear a turtle shell
  • Pick an “egg” from the nest to see if she would be 1 of the 4,000 turtles that survive past the hatchling stage (even after 3 picks she didn’t survive but the gentleman working the stand was still kind enough to give her a little hatchling – though she ended up loosing it by dropping it on the dock later in the day).  Also at this station she learned about the various things that happen to the turtles and the reasons why so few of them survive into adulthood
  • Make a composting treat (Sophia already knew about composting so while they were making the treat together she told the lady all about how she helps Popi feed the worms – mind you she did that way back in September it must have really been a fun memorable experience for her) layered with fudge, gummy worms and crumbled oreo cookies (Tedy really enjoyed eating her creation)
  • Make a honey comb candle then learn about how they use honey in the rehabilitation process with some of the turtles.  While learning about this she got to touch a Sea Turtle shell and learn that they even rub honey on the shell.  Also at this station she got to taste a couple different types of honey and of course she told the lady “[Curious] George likes to eat honey but the bear took it and he got stung by a bee.”
  • Plant sunflower seeds
  • See how they gather oyster shells and bring them into other areas where the shells have been damaged to help rehabilitate them
  • Decorate a turtle journal
  • Color a turtle face (though she didn’t want to wear the mask)
  • Climb through a fishing net and find the hole so that if she was a Sea Turtle she could escape (the whole family had a blast with this one)
  • Paint a turtle stamp to stamp onto the paper and create a beautiful piece of turtle artwork
  • Color a “sneaky snake”
  • Sort through recycling and separate it by tossing it into various bins
  • Meeting the GASTC mascot Scute and dancing with him
  • Looking at recycled metal artwork
  • Playing with puppies from the humane society
The entire event was absolutely amazing!  It was more than I ever expected!  Every station made the educational piece fun!  The majority of the materials they used to create the various projects were recycled/reused from brown paper grocery bags to cut up sheets of paper, etc.  They even had a station where you could make a recycled piece of paper from old paper!  Like I said, we didn’t participate in everything but we did so much while we were there and Sophia had an amazing experience because she is still constantly telling people what she did.  Kudos to the GASTC for an amazing event!  Thank you to all the volunteers that helped make this Earth Day “shell-ebration” a memorable experience for my entire family!

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