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Ecological Research Center host open house Saturday

NEWTON, Ga. -- Located between Colquitt and Newton is a facility that assembles information and conducts research on things that impact the natural systems within the region's ecological plain.

This weekend, that facility is allowing the public a chance to get a sneak peek.

The Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway is conducting an open house from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday.

"The center is not open to the public, but every two years, we open up the office buildings and labs to show what we do," said Kevin McIntyre, education coordinator at the center.

"We want the public to know about our work and what we do. It's a great educational opportunity, and (a good opportunity) for broadening awareness."

The event is expected to include an ongoing slide show presentation, hands-on learning activities for children, wagon tours of Ichauway's landscape and historical area and walking tours of the working plant and wildlife research facilities.

In addition, some animals from Chehaw are expected to make an appearance at the event, McIntyre said. Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch. Drinks and tables will be provided.

Based on attendance in previous years, officials expect a positive response.

"We usually get 700 to 800 people to show up in the course of a day," McIntyre said. "It is usually well-attended. We hope everyone will come check it out."

The open house is generally held every other April, in part because that is the time of year in which the center's collection of native azaleas are in bloom -- as is the case this year, McIntyre added.

The center currently has 85 staff members and 20 graduate students conducting research on site. The areas of focus are the longleaf pine ecosystem and its wildlife as well as aquatic ecology and water resources.

The center is located at 3988 Jones Center Drive in Newton, which is on Highway 91 approximately 10 miles south of Newton and 15 miles north of Colquitt. On the day of the event, there will be signs nearby pointing toward the facility.

Directions are available at www.jonesctr.org. The center can be contacted by calling (229) 734-4706.