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News Release

Crafts, Learning, Conservation, Fill Earth Day Celebration

GAINESVILLE, Fl., May 14 , 2014—Where else but at an event celebrating Earth Day and Wetland’s Month could you learn how to manage your irrigation water use, find out what type of soil is in your garden, learn what plants are “Florida Friendly” and easily grown, or paint a picture on a rock, all on the same day.  That is what happened in Brooksville, Fla., last Friday. 

The public was invited to the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Materials Center, a research facility that evaluates plants for conservation traits and develops innovative techniques to manage them. Janet Grabowski, who manages the center for NRCS, gave several tours and explained ongoing research.

Many parents took advantage of the event to teach their home-schooled children about environmental issues and conservation.  Children and adults learned about soil health and erosion from NRCS staff, saw an alligator and a snake close up at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park exhibit and discovered how to prevent wildfires from the Florida Forest Service.

Alec Likens enjoyed activities at Earth Day eventThree-year-old Alec Likens had a great time at all the booths.  “We are a homeschooling family and heard about the event through Home Circle of Hernando County. We found it to be educational and enjoyed the hands-on activities,” said his mother, Katie Likens.

During the daylong event everyone pitched in to plant a red maple tree in memory of Courtney Alexandra Tye, an employee with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who passed away earlier this year.  Tye was a wildlife biologist who worked closely with NRCS employees.

Harvesting green beans, beets, tomatoes and peppers in the People’s Garden was a hit. The Plant Materials Center donated 26 pounds of the vegetables to The Homeless Ministry of Brooksville; an organization that meets twice a week with the homeless and people in need, providing them with food and other necessities.

At the end of the day, center staff gave each participant wildflower seedlings to take home and plant in their gardens; and hopefully spread the word on conservation.

The saying around NRCS offices, “Every day is Earth Day,” is fitting because their work helps private landowners conserve natural resources every day.  NRCS conservationists provide technical advice and conservation planning for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners wanting to make conservation improvements to their land.

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