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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Celebrating Our Planet

Today was Earth Day...when I told my husband that we had a booth set up at the event, he was surprised.  I could not help but is too bad that this celebration has gotten a bad rap over the years.  We did not spend the day worship the ground or hugging trees.  Instead we were able to spend some time with the community teaching about wildlife and our national forests and grasslands.

The boys and I often volunteer with the group, Friends of the National Forests and Grasslands.  This groups is set up to educate communities about the amazing resources found in our forests and grasslands.  Today we were only one of many groups that taught about gardening, recycling, food, and more!

This is just one way we have found to give back to the community that relates to our Wildlife project.  4H encourages service opportunities related to projects.  This group was a perfect fit for our family.  They encourage family activities and the children teach children by coming to the events and showing them what they have learned.  Today we were also able to show off some of our native snakes to the participants.  We brought along three small corn snakes (one was even shedding, which is fun to show people) and a leucistic (partial loss of pigment) rat snake named Casper.  We also had a Columbian red-tailed boa, however, he was too  nervous to allow visitors to hold (he wrapped himself around our arms very tight!).  Our main goal with the snakes is to show the public that snakes are helpful.  We do not want any one to have a bad experience, so we try to be aware of the snakes behavior before allowing others to handle them.  For instance, Casper was very friendly and many people (children and adults) were able to hold a snake for the first time.  I always love to have a turn-around with a participant because I remember my own turn-around moment.  And this would never had happened had we not been volunteering with the group for 4H experiences.

The set up at this event was very helpful for us.  All of the booths were set up in a tight circle, so the boys were able to come and go from our booth easily.  They all went around to see the different crafts, food and information throughout the area.  Here are some of the highlights of the day:

Brendan spent most of his time near our booth.  However, he would often venture over to the booth a few steps down from ours to grab another bowl of homemade ice cream!  He even had the opportunity to help in the making by turning the churning mechanism.  All of the boys enjoyed this but he loved the ice cream!

Edward found the face painters and convinced them to paint his arm with a snake!  I thought that went right along with the theme of or day.  He also made several plasters of animal prints throughout the day.  These will be very helpful for our Wildlife/WHEP instruction.  Edward also managed to find all the booths with food...our little snacker had a field day walking around the booths eating!

Henry immediately was drawn to the Pringles cans that were dangling from a booth.  He loves to reuse those canisters.  Today he learned to make a bird feeder.  He was also the one he stayed with our booth the longest.  He loves to hold the snakes and share with others.

Sean found a recycling area also.  He was able to create a winning craft (an egg carton caterpillar) and was awarded a recycled ribbon for his efforts.  We also took pictures of a day-fly and spider during the day.  And we found ourselves not too far from the beekeepers observation hive, so he spent some of his time there as well.

I need to remember to bring an empty tote bag with us when we go to these events.  We walked in with a small backpack with diapers and came out with a ton of stuff!  We could barely carry it all back to the car, and we were very thankful for the small carts that were driving people back to the parking lot.

It was an awesome day sharing what we have learned from our 4H Wildilfe/WHEP projects.  I am so glad that 4H encourages us to 'make the best better.'

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