Pickens Middle School teachers Louise Hope and Susan Hilyer want to make “Turtles on the Town” a reality in Pickens.
The project aims to place various turtles at various historic sites within the downtown area.
Hope and Hilyer have been partnering on different environmental topics and projects for years.
“We’re very community-focused,” said Louise Hope.
The teachers were looking for ideas for a project for this year.
“We wanted to involve our students,” she said. “We were familiar with the Mice on Main in Greenville and we were brainstorming ‘What can we do along the same lines?’”
After deciding to focus on turtles that are native to South Carolina, Hope and Hilyer took their idea to Pickens City Council.
“Interestingly, they’d thought about the same kind of thing, but nothing had been done with it,” Hope said.
The “Turtles on the Town” project will differ from the Mice on Main Street project in that each turtle on the walk will be different, Hope said.
Zan Wells, the artist who create the mice for Greenville, is hard at work designing the turtles.
“She’s really doing a super job with this,” Hope said. “She’s getting really excited about this project. Each shell will be different, the feet, the noses of each turtle.
The teachers created a brochure about the project and then began soliciting sponsors, encouraging businesses to “adopt a turtle” for $500.
“The Pickens area businesses have been great,” Hope said. “We’ve sold twelve turtles already.”
“We’d like to have a little brass plate next to each turtle that will tell about how each turtle, their habit and who sponsored that turtle,” she continued.
Sponsoring businesses will be given tour brochures to give to their customers
Costs for the turtle statues and installation will be between $6,000 and $8,000. Hope, Hilyer and their students are working on ways to raise the funds for the installation.
The students will create a coloring book about the project, Hope said.
Some of the coloring books’ pages will be devoted to the turtles themselves with information about each turtle and its habitat
The book will also focus on water quality and how humans and animals alike need clean water to survive, Hope said.
The group is seeking sponsors for the coloring book. For $25, sponsors can have their name printed in the back of the coloring book.
“It would be ideal if we could get a lot of names listed in the back of the coloring book,” Hope said. “We want to get a lot of people involved in this.”
Sponsorship funds will go toward the installation of the turtles.
The trail will lead walkers on a tour “from the Mountains to the Sea,” and will feature turtles native to each region of the state.
The walk will begin at Legacy Square, where three bronze sliders will be installed on a log in the square’s fountain.
Walkers will then go around the corner to the Hagood-Mauldin House, before returning to Main Street, where the Burning Brick has sponsored a turtle.
Another turtle will be installed at the base of the water tower that overlooks Main Street.
“It’s called the stinkpot turtle,” Hope said. “It lives in freshwater creeks and needs fresh water to survive so the water tower is the perfect spot for it.”
Walkers will continue down Main Street to the city park near the Bradley-Boggs House, where the next turtle will be installed.
Another turtle will be installed at the Chamber of Commerce office. Walkers will then cross the street to visit the next turtle, located at Pickens Presbyterian Church, before walking to Superior Auto Parts to visit the next turtle.
The next turtle will be in front of East Main Treasures. Walkers will then walk down to the Pickens County Museum which will have a turtle installed in their garden.
Turtles will also be installed in front of the Pickens County Courthouse and the new location of Pickens Middle School, Hope said.
The teachers hope to have the trail fully funded and installed by the end of the school year. The city is assisting with some funding, and the school also has “Champions of the Environment” grant funds.
T-shirts are also being sold to benefit the project. The shirts are $15
“It has a turtle on the front, and then on the back the turtle is smiling and it says ‘Pickens Turtles on the Town,’” Hope said.
Hope and Hilyer have been incorporating the project into their lessons. Students used surveying tools to measure the length of the trail and they have also been writing storybooks about the turtles, Hope said.
For more information on the Turtles on the Town project, or to sponsor a turtle or the coloring book, call Susan Hilyer at 414-8280 or Louise Hope at 878-8735.
Hilyer can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Louise Hope at email@example.com