Prior to leaving Garris Landing via ferry for the auto tour on Bull Island during the fourth annual Bulls Bay Nature Festival, I had been alerted by the volunteer coordinator, Jennifer Heisler, about one of the participants I would be guiding. The girl, a pre-teen, had been talking with Jennifer about fiddler crabs observed in the marsh. It became clear that as the guide for the tour I would have a knowledgeable and inquisitive youth contingent in our group of two dozen.
Photo credit Jennifer Heisler
While several of the youth displayed a knowledge of natural history, and asked penetrating questions during Captain Will Christenson’s talk on the ride through the marsh, one stood out – ten year old Maggie Moran from Myrtle Beach.
Our tour had two vehicles and trailers, and I trailer-hopped between stops to talk about multiple subjects including horseshoe crabs, invasive species, the maritime forest, the reason for the island’s multiple ridges, and of course Alligatorzilla. Alligator Alley did not disappoint – a 7-8 foot alligator was right next to the dike, allowing good viewing and photos. I planned for our first longer stop at the Boneyard. At some point Maggie politely made a request. Could the group at noon join hands along the beach, as many other people would be simultaneously on beaches along the coast – Hands Across the Sand – to advocate for no offshore drilling? I agreed that this activity would be a possibility. On reflection the request got my attention through the innocence, deep caring for nature, and unassuming manner of Maggie. Our group had become stretched out along the Boneyard, and as noon approached I gathered about half of our numbers so Maggie could make her appeal. A dozen joined hands, ages ranging from 80 to less than 8.
Photo credit Samantha Chamberlain
A sign was displayed: “Protect the Earth”, a principle we all endorsed. It was a moment of symbolism and solidarity at this iconic coastal prominence.
On the return voyage Will continued his lively and informative discussion utilizing collected objects. A younger child took a vacated whelk casing to Will, who proceeded to pull open a casing with tiny whelks; Maggie displayed them in her hand for each ferry passenger to view. This young girl, with a consciousness far beyond her ten years, an appreciation of the natural world, and a commitment to the environment etched into her DNA, became an environmental educator for us all.