Thousands Attend Missouri Earth Day 2010
Nearly 3,000 students, teachers and community members attended Friday's Missouri Earth Day 2010 in Jefferson City.
This is the sixteenth year Missouri's Department of Natural Resources hosted the event at the capitol. Fifth grade students from schools as far as 70 miles away were invited to learn more about going green.
"We would like to share with them how we can enjoy and protect our natural resources," Missouri's DNR division information officer Hylan Beydler said. "We hope that kids have a better understanding of how they can help protect the environment and as I've had discussions with children today they have a good idea of what they can do."
About 26 booths, set up by federal and state agencies, were scattered across the south lawn of the capitol. Each booth gave kids a chance to learn about different aspects of the environment, create crafts and interact with nature. The event also included a variety of games and contests.
"My favorite thing here is we're going to play Survivor," Pioneer Trail Elementary student Danielle Evans said. "We've got to eat dirt and stuff, which is kind of disgusting."
Students were also challenged to reduce their amount of trash and recycling in the third annual "zero waste challenge." Workers set up recycling and trash bins along the sidewalks and helped students to sort their lunches into wastes and recyclables. Once all the waste is collected, it is audited and weighed.
According to the DNR, the amount of trash and recycling produced per person increased 20 percent from 2008's challenge to 2009's. The department said they hope to see a decrease in this year's challenge.
For South Callaway R-II Elementary student Hattie Bittle, recycling is an everyday habit. Bittle created this year's Earth Day theme "Recycle around the clock, 'cause Earth Day rocks!" based on her love of recycling.
Bittle entered the slogan in the Earth Day slogan contest and was recognized in the opening ceremony. Her entry was selected from 150 others. Along with receiving a $100 savings bond, Bittle also took part in helping Missouri first lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon plant a dogwood tree at the Earth Day celebration tree planting ceremony.
Bittle said she is passionate about nature and was thrilled to win. She said she one day hopes to go into conservation to continue to help protect the environment like she does now.
"We were part of the stream team and we go down and pick up the trash," Bittle said. "That's cool, getting to help all the fish and the animals in the water because you don't think about that as much as animals that are on the ground."
Bittle wasn't the only student passionate about helping the environment.
"We can save energy for the planet. Whenever you're not using electricity, shut off the lights," Pioneer Trail Elementary student Reese Erny said.
In the end, students came away with a better understanding of their environment.
"My favorite part about Earth Day is coming together with all the schools and we're having fun," Evans said. "We're celebrating Earth Day, we're getting trees, stickers and playing fun games all at the source of Missouri."