Author Archives: Joy O' Nature

About Joy O' Nature

I am a naturalist on the education staff here at Oatland Island Wildlife Center. I earned a B.S. in Terrestrial Ecology with a minor in Wildlife Biology from the University of Vermont. I recently received my MPH in Environmental Health from the University of Arizona. I have been a classroom science and environmental educator; instructing all ages from preschool to college, for most of my educated life.

Small World


We learned all about magnification on this day so we could use our eyes to see the details of a small world.  Check out our youngest microscopists:hand lensesmicroscope matching2microscopes

They did it! They could actually see the image.  How do I know, I had this matching game where they had to pick the picture of what they saw under the microscope and then try to figure out what it was in the Macro world.

I love teaching these wonderful minds!






King for a Day–Cats Love Boxes!


We had such a fun day making a cardboard castle for our recently turned 5 year old cougar.  I had so may little kitty helpers to paint the castle.  At the end of the program, we made cougar masks and paper tails and then pounced down to the exhibit to see the cougar and castle in action.  Here are highlights of the day:


Here is the video of his first interaction with the castle if you missed it:


He was more attracted to the ice dragon that the animal keepers made for him.  He kept coming back to the castle all day.  I am sure it made his day!

Thanks everyone!  Special thanks to our keepers who never get thanked by the animals they keep!  Happy Zookeepers Week!~  We have the greatest team here at Oatland Island Wildlife Center!


animal keeper on cougar day


Born to Roam


Did you know that bison are prairie makers?  We learned all about bison today and even read a sweet book about an old bison that is adopted by a calf in Grandfather Buffalo:

grandfather buffalo

We learned that a buffalo is a misnomer for our American Bison (Bison bison) because when the white people came to America they saw a familiar animal to their buffalo and they named it a buffalo.  The scientists corrected us and showed us how they are cousins to buffalo but are their own species.  I won’t be bothered by the nickname though.  Just call it an American Buffalo and we will know who you are talking about.

We learned how all that roaming and grazing and pooping makes prairies:  We ended class by making our own bison chia prairie heads.  Check  them out!






Front Porch Pickin’ Party


We opened up our 1800’s cabins and learned a little about home living in the old days.  Ms. Pam cooked cornbread for us on the hearth and we had a little home style pickin’ party!

It was so much fun that next year (we only do this when it is coldish) we are going to do it twice, once to learn about old fashioned toys and another for an old time music jam party.  Keep up with this one. It is a not-to-miss event for you and your little one:

Whale, Whale


This class was enormously fun, kind of like a right whale.

We sang Baby Right Whale (sung  in lieu of Baby Beluga) to honor and celebrate the return of the Right Whale Mamas and their babies to the Georgia coast.

We sang Baleen, Blowhole, Fins and Flukes to the tune of Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

We read a wonderful story  about Whale songs called Following Papa’s Song:


It is about a Little Blue Whale who is inquisitive and asks his Papa about where they are migrating to, and how he will know it is time to go.  It was all about listening for the other whales call out across the ocean (Whales can hear each other 5 miles away!).  We even listened to whale calls for sound effect throughout the story.  It was awesome!

We ended the program with these paper plate transformations


Dragon Day


We celebrated this most imaginative animal on International Dragon Day. We talked about dragon like animals, such as the alligator.  We even had an alligator in class so we could learn about scales and scutes.

We read a few dragon tales, including my favorite


The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.  We had a fun snake dragon parade as we sang and acted out our emotions with the Happy Dragon Song:


and lastly we made these fun, fire breathing dragons:


Happy Dragon Day!