Ocean County Press Release
THE OCEAN COUNTY Department of Parks and Recreation will host its first Facebook Live educational program at 11 a.m., March 20 featuring "Box Turtle Talk."

"Because of state and county emergency declarations concerning the coronavirus outbreak, we had to make the difficult decision to close our nature centers to the public just as we have had to place restrictions on our other government buildings," said Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who serves as chairwoman of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. "But with social media and our creative parks department staff, we will now be bringing some of our programs to you at home."

The programs will be broadcast on the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreations Facebook page. To find the site, the public can search Ocean County Parks and Recreation on Facebook or use the direct link: https://www.facebook.com/OceanCountyParks/

Coming live from the Nature Center at Cattus Island County Park in Toms River will be Nikki Vernachio, senior park naturalist, who will talk about the Box Turtle.

According to allturtles.com the box turtle is a species like no other. With a beautifully powerful shell and gentle demeanor, it's popular among pet owners and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

"We are looking forward to bringing this programming to your home," Haines said. "With schools being closed and parents looking for things to do with their children, we want to be a part of the answer with something enjoyable and educational. This program will be enjoyable for all ages."

The visitor and nature centers at Jake's Branch County Park in Beachwood, Cattus Island County Park in Toms River, Wells Mills County Park in Ocean Township, and Cloverdale Farms County Park and Cedar Bridge Tavern in Barnegat Township have been closed to the public as part of the state and county coronavirus outbreak emergency declarations.

"When we closed our nature centers and park buildings to the public we had to cancel children's programs, exercise, yoga and wellness programs, nature and outdoor events, weekend "drop-in" walks and feedings, van trips and hikes until further notice," Haines said. "Hundreds of visitors come to our nature centers daily and we knew keeping them open to the public would not help curtail the spread of coronavirus.

"Our parks are open to the public but we are strongly encouraging social distancing if you do visit them and no large groups as determined by the state and health experts in order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus," she said. "I know the Facebook live programs will help county residents of all ages enjoy some time with nature without having to go out."

A new program from a different county nature center will be shown at 11 a.m. every Wednesday and Friday.

"We encourage everyone to join us at this time," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. "It's important we all adapt to the current situation and I assure you Ocean County Government is doing all it can to help the public and our staff."

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