Help Audubon name the turtle

Photo submitted to Times Observer Audubon Community Nature Center has created a contest to find a name for the 12-foot long concrete turtle that lives near its outdoor Nature Play Area. May 31 is the deadline for the first phase of the contest.

Audubon Community Nature Center needs a name for the huge concrete turtle that lives near its outdoor Nature Play Area.

The 12-foot long creature weighs about 1500 pounds. It was given to Audubon last fall by its creator, Mike Whitmire of Whitmire Outdoor Living in Starbrick.

“Children love playing around and climbing on the turtle,” said Katie Finch, the staff nature educator who organizes Audubon’s free monthly Nature Play Days. “Kids ask about the turtle’s name and gender. So we thought we’d let the community help name it.”

Audubon is taking an unusual approach to finding a name for its new resident. “We want to engage many people in finding a creative name for our turtle. It is such a unique part of our location, and we are so grateful to Mike Whitmire for donating it to us,” said Executive Director Leigh Rovegno.

Through Friday, May 31, everyone is invited to submit a name of either gender at AudubonCNC.org/NameTheTurtle. Audubon staff will pick the top five name finalists. Between June 7 and 30, Nature Center visitors can vote on their favorite name by voting with their loose change. The idea is to encourage children to participate in the voting process as much as possible. Each coin will count as one vote.

The turtle name that receives the most coin votes (votes will be counted by the number of coins, not total dollar amount) will be announced on Thursday, July 4. The winner will receive a personal Meet and Greet with some of Audubon’s live turtles and a Nature Center Family Membership.

Nature Play Day is a free event on the third Saturday morning of every month when, accompanied by their favorite adults, children ages two to eight have fun in the Nature Play Area. Extra materials that change with the weather and season are there, and a naturalist is present to answer questions and provide information. Children can explore unstructured outdoor play in a safe environment while their grownups learn how to continue the nature play experience at home.

Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, N.Y., and Warren. The three-story Nature Center contains interactive displays, a collection of live animals, and the Blue Heron Gift Shop. Building hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sundays 1-4 p.m.

The 600-acre wetland preserve has more than five miles of trails, and Liberty, the non-releasable Bald Eagle, can be visited from dawn until dusk daily.

To learn more about Audubon and its many programs, call (716) 569-2345 or visit auduboncnc.org.

Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature by providing positive outdoor experiences, opportunities to learn about and understand the natural world, and knowledge to act in environmentally responsible ways.

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