Dartmouth, MA – What started out years ago as a way to thank their members and supportive neighbors, the LLOYD CENTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT’S Fall Family Fun-Fest has become an annual fixture on the calendar of a growing number of South Coast nature enthusiasts. In celebrating the coming of the fall season, hundreds of energetic Lloyd Center families gathered at the Center’s Hardscrabble Nature Preserve on Sunday to enjoy a wide variety of nature related activities.
Drawn to many attractions, guests discovered the relaxation of kayaking on the beautiful Slocum River, dip-netting and seining for tiny species of marine wildlife, strolling through the Center’s five miles of nature trails and participating in cleverly designed scavenger hunts, both inside the Visitor Center and out in the coastal woods.
A new activity on the Forest Management Trail was called “Is this Natural?”. Children were challenged to guess whether things they saw there were authentic features of nature or the mischievous concoctions of inventive staff members.
An exciting new feature at this year’s Fun-Fest was an old fashioned cider press, where children learned the fun and simplicity of making amazingly fresh and tasty apple cider (from apples generously donated by Dartmouth Orchards). While their parents enjoyed the respite that only a coastal nature preserve can provide, children made coffee-filter butterflies, shell creatures and ornaments, bagel-bird-feeder creations, and sea-life diorama’s.
Always a Fun-Fest favorite, face-painting proved as popular as ever, as many tried on clever disguises to fool their friends.
Guests of all ages munched on hot dogs and hamburgers served up by Lloyd Center volunteers and then lined up to make their own ice-cream sundae creations, all while soaking up the jazzy renditions of well known pianist and singer, Gary Langevin.
The Lloyd Center’s “Raptor-in-Residence”, a gorgeous Red-Shouldered Hawk, rescued a year ago from the woods with a permanently crippling injury, made a number of appearances and seemed to be as interested in the children as they were in her.
Once inside the Center’s main exhibit hall, guests marveled at the Center two newest displays, a spectacular circular tank containing tropical marine species and a constantly circulating display of locally found live jellyfish.
When asked why the Lloyd Center put on such an event for its supporters, Executive Director, D’Arcy MacMahon noted that “Without the loyalty and support of our members, we would have never been able to make the progress we have in engaging the community in the need to protect our local waterways and the delicate land that borders them. But above all, in a world that seems increasing dominated by man-made problems and electronic entertainment, it gives us an opportunity to remind ourselves of just how much fun, and restorative, nature can be.
We are grateful to all the volunteers who worked so hard to make the day a success and we appreciate the ongoing support of local businesses, including Alderbrook Farm, CV General Store, Oxford Creamery, The Bucket, New York Bagel, Osprey Sea Kayak, Saltmarsh Pottery, and Silverbrook Farm.”
Located on 55 acres of pristine salt marsh and maritime forest overlooking the spectacular Slocum River estuary, the Lloyd Center for the Environment’s main exhibit hall is open, at no charge to the public, Tuesdays through Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. An 18-foot-long skeleton of a pilot whale, as well as those of a dolphin and an enormous leatherback turtle are all on display.
The Center’s aquaria are home to a stunning variety of local freshwater and saltwater creatures and the always popular touch-tank allows all to get up-close-and-personal with lively spider crabs, amazing whelks, entertaining hermit crabs, and a host of others. The view from the Center’s “Osprey Room” Observatory has earned the designation as one of Massachusetts’ fifteen “Special Places” by the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. Trails are open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.
Founded in 1978, the Center has achieved a well earned reputation for excellence in environmental research and education. Through its innovative outreach programs, it has established itself as a highly regarded leader in the ongoing effort to raise awareness of the area’s fragile coastal resources and the importance of protecting them.