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EARTH Festival

The Enthusiasm Was Not Dampened!

April 11, 2007, dawned with a brisk wind and rain. The elements, however, did not hinder the Third Annual Franklin County E.A.R.T.H. (Earth Awareness Researchers for Tomorrow's Habitat) Festival held at Ottawa, Kansas, from taking place.

Students arrive at E.A.R.T.H FestivalOver 300 sixth and seventh graders from the Franklin County school districts braved the weather to absorb information on our natural resources. Demonstrations were set up at various stations throughout the fairgrounds covering such subjects as soil, water, air, and plants.

E.A.R.T.H. is a year-long middle school environmental education program, culminating with this student festival/workshop day. The program encourages the students to develop skills to become wise stewards of their environment.

A groundwater flow model demonstration was set up to represent a sliced section of earth. Movement of water and contaminants was demonstrated through the use of water tinted with food coloring. It illustrated water table fluctuations, leaking landfills and underground storage tanks, non-point source leaching, and stream contamination.

The "Edible Aquifer" was unique in using everyday kitchen items, such as pudding (for bedrock); cereal, chocolate chips, and raisins (for soil and rock); and chocolate syrup (for polluted water) to create and examine the importance of protecting the earth's groundwater.

Students attending one of the E.A.R.T.H stationsStudents received hands-on experience with "Mudscapes" and "Mud Builders" to emphasize the responsible use of soil, whether it is building a farm or a housing development.

NRCS employees used the rainfall simulator to illustrate the importance of keeping soil covered with residue and grass to prevent erosion.

Presenters of the air quality information utilized the Jeopardy game to make it fun, as well as educational, in testing their knowledge.

Students moving between stationsThe foresters educated the students on what trees need for growth and the benefits of healthy forests for water quality.

Yes, the enthusiasm was not dampened as evidenced by the students eagerly going from one demonstration to another. At each demonstration were individuals from teachers to local conservation district and extension service staff representing federal and state agencies that are enthusiastic and devoted to teaching our future generation about our natural resources.

Volunteers preparing lunchThere is also another group of individuals who helped to make this event a success—the volunteers. Each year, this event entails a lot of time-consuming planning and coordination. The volunteers are always there to give of their time and help out where they are needed.

If you want to be part of such a rewarding experience, contact your local conservation district or nearest NRCS Service Center.