"Wow! Turtles! Can we touch it?" an excited five-year-old Nathan Mroczek of Lincolnshire yelled Sunday before having the chance to hold a fox snake and touch a red-eared slider turtle.
The Lake County Forest Preserve District held a "Meet and Greet Education Animals" event on Easter Sunday to kick off free Earth Week programs.
During the program at the Ryerson Conservation Area near Riverwoods, about 40 visitors saw live animals that included turtles, a tiger salamander, a fox snake and a screech owl. Participants also were allowed to touch fur, feathers and scales of local wildlife.
"This event shows how the animals can be teaching ambassadors for the public," said environmental educator Melissa Alderson.
Other programs planned this week are Acoustic Bat Monitoring, Pond Scooping and Experience Nature at Night.
For a list of other Earth Week programs, times and locations visit www.lcfpd.org.