Kids, accompanied by parents and guardians, arrived at Tarawa Terrace Community Center, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, July 11, excited and wide eyed, unsure of what the day had in store. Participants of the Summer Reading Program knew they would be getting books and embracing reading.

They also knew that today would be different; Pine Knolls Shores Aquarium was coming to do a presentation. The event presented by Pine Knolls Shores was sure to be an exciting one.

The kids eagerly awaited as Sam Betancur, Pine Knolls Shores outreach coordinator, got ready for her presentation on being Habitat Heroes. The presentation provided facts on owls, salamanders, turtles, alligators and ways to protect the environment.

"There’s a lot you guys can do to help animals such as throw your trash away. If you find a turtle or salamander outside, never take it home with you because it could get very sick” Betancur said. “If you ever find a sick or injured animal, don’t try to touch them because they might get hurt or hurt you. Find a grown up and call wildlife rescue so the animal can get help safely.”

Children volunteers were dressed up like animals while they learned facts in an interactive presentation. Valuable advice on how we all need to keep the environment clean was given to the kids as they eagerly waited to see the animals they were learning about.

“I love that Pine Knolls Shores changes up the presentation each year,” said Lauren Hansen, library technician at Harriotte B. Smith Library. “Every year, they give new information so even the adults learn something new.”

After Betancur finished discussing each animal, she brought out a rescued animal and walked the room so all the children could see it. At the conclusion of her presentation, kids ran to get in line to pet an alligator.

Kids all received free books to build their home libraries, while door prizes were given out during the event as well.

The Marine Corps Community Services Camp Lejeune-New River Summer Reading Program has offered many exciting events for kids this summer and attendance this year has been high.

"We have had an amazing turn out this year with roughly 160 kids showing up to each event," said Sean Pittman, program supervisor Camp Lejeune libraries. “We just really want the kids to keep reading over the summer months and stay engaged.”

There are a few events remaining for the summer reading program. For more information on these events, visit www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/libraries.