“The overall mission of the Preserve is to obviously first preserve our property ... but also to provide environmental education for the community both through the school groups that we have, the public events that we have and then also to allow for folks to do research at the Preserve since it is a pristine environment,” said Marina Robertson, executive director for the Pettit Preserve. “... I think the main thing [I want people to gain] is just a greater knowledge and appreciation of nature and ways that they can interact with nature and keep our Bartow County spaces as natural and clean as possible.”
Along with offering self-led and interpreted hikes, the nonprofit’s June 15 event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. also will feature the Bartow County Master Gardeners — who will oversee a worm composting booth and an “Ask a Master Gardener” offering — and a Critter Carnival program. Conducted by Ronny Holcomb, conservation ranger/wildlife technician with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the offering will highlight various “critters,” such as turtles and spiders, throughout the day.
“The children ask absolutely honest questions and are very excited to see and learn,” Holcomb said. “Hands-on experiences are always interesting because it’s oftentimes the first reaction or first chance they’ve had the opportunity to experience those animals up close and personal. It’s a wonderful thing to [introduce] children and adults to [these animals].
“... These [programs help] dismiss some of the [fears]. Every spider, snake or scorpion ... doesn’t have to be a fearful situation. It is a fascinating situation actually and that’s why I try to get the children to learn and to enjoy. These things are everywhere. We step over them or around them much more than we realize. They live their lives without no negative impact to us whatsoever. As a matter of fact, they’re always positive impacts.”
Situated off Ga. Highway 61 in southwest Bartow County, the Pettit Preserve consists of 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 venue was formed as a private, nonprofit corporation — The Margaret and 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. Tailoring educational programs, such as tree identification and water testing, to youth, the Pettit Preserve has served more than 4,700 students since 2006.
“[Over the years], we’ve been able to increase our program offerings,” Robertson said. “We have quarterly hikes now, where when we first started out we were only able to have one or two a year. We’ve expanded our Boy Scout offering and we’ve also continued to increase the number of Boy Scout Eagle projects that we have on the property.
“... As far as our structure, we do have memberships now. The other thing that we’re evolving is we’re working with the Bartow Business & Contractors Connection to do a golf tournament in August. So we’re forming different connections and alliances that will help us further our mission.”
Admission to Critter Carnival & Hike will be $3 for each person, with the maximum cost being $10 per family, and free to Preserve members. For more information about the Preserve, visit www.pettitpreserve.org or contact Robertson at 678-848-4179.