Kids save the planet at festival

24 09 2008

Albany Herald

DAWSON — More than 300 Dougherty County fifth-graders got out of the classroom Tuesday for a hands-on lesson about water conservation at the Regional Water Festival in Dawson.

Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful sponsored the event at the Hooks-Hanner Environmental Center along with The Darsey Family Foundation, the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission and the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center.

Judy Bowles, executive director of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful, said the event was a great way to enable kids to soak up knowledge about the environment.

“Water is the most precious resource that we have,” Bowles said. “You have to start at a very early age teaching our young people that we cannot make water and that the water we have today is all the water we’ll ever have.”

About 310 Dougherty County students attended the first day of the three-day festival. More than 600 students are expected to participate from schools in Lee, Terrell, Webster and Randolph counties today and Thursday.

The children learned about ways to conserve water, the water cycle and environmental effects of pollution through 10 experiment stations. Each center was sponsored by a different organization. Sponsors included Dougherty County Public Works, the USDA-National Peanut Research Lab and the Georgia Forestry Commission, among others.

Heili Trueblood, a student at Sherwood Acres Elementary School, said two of her favorite exhibits were the “Wildlife and Water” and “Sammy the Striped Bass” tents.

The Wildlife and Water tent was sponsored by The Parks at Chehaw and the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Lesia Irvin showed a great horned owl to the students.

“I learned that owls cannot turn their heads 360 degrees like people say they can,” Heili said. “They just turn them halfway.”

Another interesting fact Heili learned was that the water we use and drink today is the same water the dinosaurs used.

“It goes through the water cycle, so we use it over and over again, like recycling,” she explained.

The Flint RiverQuarium led the children through the interactive story of Sammy the Striped Bass. The presenter added environmental elements such as oil, dirt and litter to an aquarium that represented Sammy’s home. As more pollution clouded Sammy’s tank, the students had to predict what would happen to the fish.

“We saw how all the bad stuff she added would affect Sammy,” Heili said.

The astute fifth-grader said she and her classmates would think about ways to protect and save water in the future.

“It’s been very fun,” Heili said. “The activities helped me learn a lot about water and what it does to help our environment.”

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