Locals celebrate nature

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 26, 2009

NATCHEZ — With rubber gloves and what looked like a large toothpick, Courtney Carter carefully removed a rodent’s jawbone from an owl pellet under a shaded porch at Historic Jefferson College Saturday afternoon.

Carter and countless other children swarmed the college’s grounds Saturday for Nature Fest 2009.

Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s Branch Director Robin Person helped to coordinate the event and said she hoped it would encourage families to get out of the house and soak up the natural beauty of their community.

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“We want them to come out and see what we have to offer right here,” Person said.

Person said the event was also meant to showcase the natural beauty of Historic Jefferson College’s grounds.

Much of the 80-acre plot is covered by two hiking trails, which Person believes many are simply unaware of.

“People should come out here, hike, look around and see what we have to offer,” she said.

Carter’s mother, Sarah, said she thought the event was a great way to bring young people and their families to the college.

“It’s been fun,” Sarah said as her daughter picked through the owl pellet.

The pellets are essentially quarter-sized balls of anything the owl cannot digest and are regurgitated.

On Saturday, kids were picking apart the pellets and then identifying the remnants of animals they found.

“I really thought they just ate seeds,” Courtney said. “This is surprising.”

But the day’s events had more to offer than just undigested rodent parts.

In one corner, gardeners preached the benefits of growing plants that hang upside down in buckets, and in another, outdoor enthusiasts took groups on nature walks through the woods.

And sitting under a tree at a table covered in fossils was Jim Barnett.

Barnett, Director of Grand Village, said the fossils were from mastodons and giant sloths that roamed the Adams County area approximately 20,000 years ago.

“This is all from right here in the county,” he said of a mastodon’s tusk that was found near Natchez State Park. “I think a lot of people don’t even realize this is out there. They just need to get out and look.”

And for Person, that was the main goal of Nature Fest.

“Just get out of the house and see what you can find,” she said.