Conserve Wildlife Blog

Costume parade and live wildlife highlight Leonardo Nature Center grand opening

November 9th, 2017

by David Wheeler

Witches, ghosts, ghouls, bats – and even dogs in costume – helped celebrate the grand opening of the new Nature Center, a partnership between Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) and the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.

Over 200 people visited Leonardo State Marina on a gorgeous autumn afternoon to enjoy the Halloween costume contest, pet parade, pumpkin painting, and light refreshments.

 

Yet the tiniest creature of all may have been the most memorable –

CWF Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin teaches children about the big brown bat.

a live big brown bat. CWF wilflife ecologist Stephanie Feigin showed the rapt families the unique adaptations that allow bats to fly, roost, and use sonar, as well as the surprising skeletal similarity between a bat’s wing and a human hand.

 

Maggie Mitchell, Superintendent at Leonardo State Marina, had this to say, “The Marina’s new Nature Center and partnership with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ will provide continued education to the Bayshore Area and expand on our presence in the community, many residents were grateful for this event and we look forward to hosting additional events in the future.”

Stephanie Feigin, CWF wildlife ecologist, Stephanie DAlessio, CWF Education Director, and Maggie Mitchell, Superintendent at Leonardo State Marina.

 

This partnership is designed to educate the public about important coastal habitat and diverse wildlife species that utilize the Raritan Bayshore area.  The grand opening allowed visitors of the center to get up close and personal with both local species like diamondback terrapins, and invasive species like the red eared slider. In addition to those two turtle species, the Nature Center also hosts a corn snake, bearded dragon, touch tanks and other activities for children to enjoy.

 

“Children and adults alike are often amazed to find out some of the wildlife species that live right in their backyards and neighborhoods – and now our Nature Center allows visitors to experience those incredible animals up close,” said CWF Director of Education, Stephanie DAlessio. “We are so excited to create a new generation of environmental stewards to help protect our coastal habitat and the wildlife that shares it with us – all while having fun connecting local families to nature.”

 

Just south of New York City, New Jersey’s Raritan Bayshore hosts an impressive wildlife diversity for such a densely populated metropolitan area. Leonardo State Marina is located in the Leonardo section of Middletown in Monmouth County, west of Sandy Hook and just north of Route 36.

 

The Nature Center is open daily from 10 am to 3 pm, with extended hours until 6 pm on Fridays. CWF and Leonardo State Marina also offer school field trips, summer programs, and special events throughout the year.

You can learn more about the Nature Center at or to inquire about school or community programs, call 732-291-2986 or email Stephanie DAlessio at Stephanie.dalessio@conservewildlifenj.org.

 

 

David Wheeler is the Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the author of Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State.

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