Local 3rd graders visit the orphanage to learn how to conserve the planet

Saving the planet, one young mind at a time.

“You try it,” Terry Ault said of the Wednesday program at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Seymour.

Ault, the Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation Coordinator, presided over the event that brought together third graders from schools in Jackson County for an educational field trip.

A different program discussing wildlife, wetlands, trees, recycling, and the Jackson County waterway has a 27-year history. Students received a primer on the many aspects of the outdoors that make the environment tick, and the big picture can provide awareness about ways to keep it going.

“We have a fun and exciting morning of activities,” said Ault, welcoming four buses of third graders from Brownstown and Medora in one sitting.

Holding hands. interactive. Outdoors in the sun rather than indoors in class. Alternating over five stations, the program excited the youth, who were followed in another session by students from Seymour Jackson Elementary School, Sandy Creek Christian Academy, St. Ambrose Catholic School and St. John Sawers Lutheran School.

More than 300 students were included in third grade, although in its pre-COVID-19 days, the program hosted 600 students, Ault said.

Although others may be surprised by the genre’s popularity, the thought that kids might go to Io, Donna Stanley learned young ones this age, about 8, with hands waving hard in the air when asked, “Who likes snakes?” “

Another reaction was likely to be true for adults, said Stanley, who runs the wildlife station.

“Maybe not the parents,” Stanley said. “They (children) have not learned to fear them.”

Corbin Brock, one of Medora’s students, said he has a penchant for slippery things.

“I just love snakes,” he said. “It can be coloured.”

The students may have been too young to address recent public information about the decline of millions of monarch butterflies, but Stanley touched on that.

“Some years, we see a lot of it, and some years, we don’t see a lot,” she said.

When Stanley asked for suggestions on how people could do more to help the butterflies, one of the girls said, “You can reduce the use of insect spray.” Stanley described the idea as excellent.

The real lesson for wildlife hinges around the habitat. When the students were asked if they knew what the habitat was, a young girl said, “It’s a place where an animal lives.” bingo.

In one of the exercises, the children imitated otters in search of food. They have captured custom cards representing favorite foods with “paws”. If an otter doesn’t collect the equivalent of 20 points, Stanley has a sobering message – he won’t survive.

At the tree station, Sandy Deringer, a park ranger at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge in Madison, appeared to be talking to the young-turned-man. They shot their hands in the air when I asked, “How many of you think it’s bad to cut down trees?”

Deringer has covered the science of how trees produce oxygen, but he’s also dipped in a bag of tricks almost like a magician to show which products contain wood from trees.

Some were obvious, like a mini baseball bat, as she was about building the house and making furniture. It was believed that some of them depended on wood at all. Derringer pointed to cinnamon.

“Do you know you eat a tree?” She said. “The inside of a baseball is a cork.”

Tree by-products go into lipstick and makeup, too. There were skeptics about toothpaste.

“There are products that give you a flavor that makes it sweet,” she said.

Deringer said it’s obviously necessary to cut down some trees to make things, but it’s not a good idea to cut down a lot.

She introduced the concept of sustainability even if the kids could barely pronounce it. College graduates may have a hard time understanding the rules regarding who can legally chop down a tree in Indiana. For it to be certified as a sustainable tree, Derringer said there are “1,000 pages of rules.” This reading level may be over the heads of third graders.

Richard Pickourt of the Purdue Extension Jackson County Program faced the difficult task of explaining the importance of wetlands.

Wetlands hold water for a long time, Picourt said. It can be anything that holds water in nature.” Such as a river or a lake. To illustrate, Piccott whipped sponges for young children to hold them because they could hold fluids for a long time.

While students can go to the water fountain if they’re thirsty, Picourt said, raccoons and other wild creatures need other sources. Wetlands provide water for animals.

Teachers provide alerts about what to expect and how to behave with third graders.

Carrie Brewer, Medora’s teacher, said her class was studying sustainable food sources, and she told the kids they would hear about animals and wetlands.

“Anything that gets them out gets them excited,” Brewer said. “It’s a great programme.”

Maisie Stockich with a Brownstown Elementary School student said the program’s strength lies in its interactive nature.

“They definitely learn from hands-on practice,” she said.

Co-trainers Debbie Hackman, executive director of the Jackson Recycling District, and Bernie Bryant, an environmental teacher at the Seymour Department of Public Works, took this seriously. For their recycling program, which is the only one that is conducted indoors at the visitor center, they came loaded with the stuff.

Each child was given something of a different kind to carry – cans made of metal, bottles made of glass, boxes made of cardboard, bottles made of plastic – and learned Styrofoam about not recycling.

Before leaving one of the groups, Bryant commented that perhaps among them there would be a “cool person” who would one day come up with new ideas for recycling and also, incidentally, contribute to saving the planet.

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