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The annual Earth Day party at Eagle Marsh, Sunday.

Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Nick Fitch, 8, gets a close look at what’s lurking in the wetlands Sunday. The event taught the importance of nature preserves and other conservation efforts.

Kids enjoy Eagle Marsh

Earth Day event teaches wildlife, conservation

Kids and families take in the wildlife exhibits at an Earth Day event at Eagle Marsh.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Girl Scouts from troops 99 and 447 take in an exhibit Sunday at an Earth Day event at Eagle Marsh.

Charlotte Anstead, 7, let out a loud “ewwww” Sunday as she approached a table lined with baggies of animal scat at Eagle Marsh.

“It’s animal poop,” she said.

But she couldn’t resist giving the pile of raccoon poop a quick squish – just to see what happened.

Cindy Nestel, a Little River Wetlands Project Volunteer and retired middle school science teacher, grinned and explained that the animal scat had been made in a mold and wasn’t real poop.

“At least it’s fake,” Charlotte said, relieved.

Charlotte and her family were among more than 1,200 people who celebrated Earth Day on Sunday at Eagle Marsh, a 716-acre nature preserve in southwest Fort Wayne near Engle Road.

The event, hosted by the Little River Wetlands Project, featured workshops on birds, pollution and water conservation, among other topics.

The young nature explorers built bugs out of egg cartons and pipe cleaners, learned about frogs and butterflies, folded paper flowers and listened as volunteers talked about the importance of wetland preserves.

Vivian Flapan, 8, said she enjoyed making crafts and was interested to learn how marshes help prevent flooding by soaking up rainwater, storing it and slowly releasing it.

“That way there isn’t water all over and it won’t flood everywhere,” she said.

Her sister, Naomi Flapan, 5, said she also liked making the crafts and exploring the tents filled with food, plants and presentations.

Naomi donned an Earth Day T-shirt, which she had colored herself earlier in the day, she explained.

At a nearby table, Nathaniel Kemme Nash, 7, and his 3-year-old sister Sarah Kemme Nash picked through a box of plastic animals as they prepared for a sorting game.

Each child took four animals from the box and sorted them into one of two categories: animals that live at the marsh and those that do not.

It took Nathaniel only a few seconds to toss the plastic giraffe, alligator and tiger into the “doesn’t” container, but he hesitated, clutching a small plastic bat in his hand.

As he pondered, a volunteer explained that the preserve is home to bats, salamanders and many other creatures.

He dropped the bat into the box and turned to help his sister.