Jamestown, N.Y. – There’s nothing new about Mike Whitmire being generous to Audubon Community Nature Center, but he outdid himself this time.

Audubon Education Coordinator Sarah Hatfield approached the owner of Whitmire Outdoor Living in Starbrick, Pa., about possibly making a climbable concrete turtle for Audubon’s outdoor Nature Play Area. It was a couple weeks till she heard back from him, and the answer was not what she expected.

“Mike told me that he had finished designing and constructing the turtle and would donate it to Audubon,” Hatfield said. “I knew that in addition to the concrete products he makes his customers, he likes to construct custom pieces that let him be creative and test new ideas. But I was blown away when I saw what he’d done!”

What Whitmire had done was create a 12-foot long turtle weighing about 1500 pounds. He spent eight days building the frame and hand sculpting the details.

“You really have to see this to believe it,” Hatfield explained. “Everyone at Audubon is so grateful to Mike for this wonderful addition to Audubon’s Nature Play Area. Children and their grown-ups are welcome to visit any time.”

The third Saturday morning of every month is Audubon Nature Play Day when, accompanied by their favorite adults, children ages two to eight can have fun in the Nature Play Area. Extra materials that change with the weather and season are placed in the play area, 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, Pa. 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 with more than five miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, 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.