By DOUG GRAVES
CAMDEN, Ohio — Want to teach students about things such as farming, soil structure or honey bees? Officials from the Preble County (Ohio) Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) believe in targeting youth at an early age.
Last week the Preble County SWCD and the Preble County Solid Waste Management District held their 15th annual Earth Day at Pleasant Vineyard Ministries in Camden. More than 500 sixth grade students from classes in Eaton, Twin Valley South, Preble Shawnee, Tri-County North and National Trail participated in the event.
“It’s our goal to reach these students in the heart of their school careers,” said Jason Chappel, technician with the SWCD in Preble County. “At this age they’re more receptive about what’s going on about them and may give them an idea of what they might want to do someday in the future.”
Students had an opportunity to visit up to 21 stations, where volunteer presenters spoke about such things as honeybees, forest products, soils, agriculture, wildlife habitat, woodland band, recycling, energy sources, water quality and more.
“I had little respect for the common honey bee until now,” said 11 year-old Matt Turner, after listening to Beekeeper Elwood Bowers. “I had no clue that they played such an important role in the pollination process. I never knew people even raised honeybees.”
Leanna Sherman, 11, called the Recycling Relay the best part of her day.
“I liked it because it made learning fun,” Sherman said. “My family pitches everything in the garbage, no matter what it is. This relay race made us think twice about what can or cannot be recycled.”
Students participated in many of the hands-on events, with each station holding a 15-minute discussion or demonstration. With the blare of a horn the students moved on to the next station to learn more about their environment.
“We like students to know what conservation really is and want them to make wide use of these natural resources,” said B.J. Price, technician and education coordinator with the Preble County SWCD and organizer of this annual get-together. “Fewer and fewer kids nowadays come from the farms and this gives those students a better understanding about the environment they live in and how to respect that environment.”
Volunteers at this event included farmers, FFA students, surveyors, beekeepers, soil scientists and others.
Celebrated in the United States on April 22, Earth Day is designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. It was founded by the late U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.) as an environmental teach-in in 1970, and is celebrated in many countries every year.