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Authored by Brannon Knight and Kevin Stohlgren

On Tuesday, June 24, 2014, several organizations partnered together to host a Longleaf Conservation Field Day at the Orianne Indigo Snake Preserve in Jacksonville, Georgia. The purpose of this field day was to educate individuals about Longleaf Pine as well as the flora and fauna found within the entire ecosystem. The Georgia Forestry Commission provided trams for attendees to tour the property, and they set up several stations where Orianne and other agency staff presented on topics ranging from Longleaf Pine understory and restoration, to Longleaf establishment and management, to Gopher Tortoise ecology.

The Orianne Society staff brought numerous local amphibians and reptiles for the attendees to view and inquire about, with questions ranging from how to identify various species to safety measures when living and working around venomous snakes. One attendee, a young man named Joseph, clearly had a strong interest in herpetology and stood out in the crowd. He was particularly interested in snakes, but he had never had the chance to hold a snake before.

That was until Chris Jenkins, CEO of the Orianne Society, placed an Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) in his hands, and he was noticeably enthralled by the experience. By the end of the day, Joseph had handled a number of species and even had a rare, up-close encounter with a safely-restrained Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) which he was able to touch. We at the Orianne Society were proud to be a part of Joseph’s first snake-handling experience, and we hope that the other attendees had their own memorable experiences at the Longleaf Conservation Field Day this June.

The Longleaf Conservation Field Day attracted a total of 71 people, ranging from private landowners to agency personnel who all share a common interest in Longleaf Pine conservation. We would like to extend our special thanks to the Longleaf Alliance, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, National Wild Turkey Federation and the Orianne Society staff who all provided resources to coordinate this successful event, and we of course extend our appreciation to each of the field day attendees for their support.

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