"We haven't had a lot of programming in the summer," said Marina Robertson, executive director for the Preserve. "We did launch a summer day care program this year, but in terms of things that were offered to the public, we haven't really had that. So we wanted to give that a try, try something new and start off the school year with an event that's free and open to the public.
"Our main mission is to provide environmental education to students and to the community as well as preserving our land and providing educational and research opportunities. We hope that this event will further the educational aspect by just doing hands-on things. That's what our community outreach programs are about is educating the public in a fun way about things that are in their backyard or in the pond up the street, so that they can become better stewards of this earth."
Situated off Highway 61 in southwest Bartow County, the venue features trails developed by Cartersville's Switchbacks Trail Design & Construction, a swinging bridge, a 9-acre lake, two aquatic stations, three amphitheaters and a Learning Shed. The Preserve was formed as a private, nonprofit corporation -- The Margaret & Luke Pettit Environmental Preserve Inc. -- in 1999 when the late Gay Pettit Dellinger and her children initially donated 60 acres of property to this endeavor.
The Preserve generally is open by appointment only, tailoring educational programs, such as tree identification and water testing, to youth groups throughout the year. During the 2010 to 2011 school year, more than 1,800 students visited the venue, which was more than double the previous year.
One of the highlights of the Preserve's upcoming event will be the Evening Songs program, led by the nonprofit's education coordinator, Lori Jewell.
"We're still in the planning stages now, but it is going to revolve around night sounds and just the different sounds that you hear in the evening hours between 6 and 9," Jewell said. "And that will involve frogs and insects, those things that you hear at night and you wonder what's making that noise. ... For [area] kids, it's a free opportunity for them to come out and be able to experience wildlife at that time and what sort of sounds they might hear and learn a little bit about what they are hearing and hopefully walk away with more of an appreciation and a desire to spend more time outdoors and learn more about the outdoors."
For more information about the Preserve and its Summer Evening Hike, visit www.pettitpreserve.org or contact Robertson at 678-848-4179.