CAMDEN — All Preble County sixth graders were invited to Wilderness Ridge at PVM Retreat Center to celebrate Earth Day on Thursday, May 3. There were many presenters at the camp and every student had the opportunity to experience four different demonstrations. While the rain did end the day early, the students were still able to learn about everything from bee keeping to Native American traditions.
According to Anna Smith, who is the Outreach Coordinator for Preble County Soil and Water Conservation District, this is the 20th year the event has been held.
“We were really lucky that all of the schools have their sixth graders here. All five schools, plus some home school students are here. Each class is basically a group and we have 24 classes here. For each group we have a presenter set up, who comes in and talks about something related to natural resources or the environment,” Smith said.
“We have people talking about bee keeping, maple syrup, we have a Native American group here, some one is talking about fossils, wildlife, recycling, and other areas. The kids each rotate to five stations, so they can get a sampling of those topics.”
However, for 2018, the weather took a turn and the kids only got to sample four demonstrations. Once the thunder began, the kids were loaded onto their buses and released back to school to eat. Normally, after lunch, there would be an awards ceremony for the poster contest, but that had to be postponed.
Beth Wright, Assistant Director of Preble County Solid Waste District, explained that every year before the Earth Day Event, the Solid Waste District holds their Earth Day Poster Contest, where sixth grade students create a graphic to go along with an earth-friendly message.
“The first, second, and third place winners are then chosen from a hundred or more entries and the first place winner’s design is printed on a t-shirt for that student, their homeroom class, and his or her homeroom teacher to wear proudly to the Earth Day presentations at Pleasant Vineyard Ministries Camp.
“This is a great honor as many people in the past have enjoyed these t-shirts and they are considered somewhat as prized collector items in Preble County. Also, the first place winner of the contest receives a framed certificate of his or her drawing at Earth Day and a $75 Amazon gift card.
“I am pleased to say that a student from Eaton Middle School won this year. The winner of the Preble County Solid Waste District’s 2018 Earth Day Poster Contest was Bailey Wright. The second place winner of the Earth Day Poster Contest was Ava Brunk from Tri-County North Middle School. Ava will receive a framed certificate of her drawing and a $50 Amazon gift card. The third place winner of the Earth Day Poster Contest is Lydia Sullenbarger Tri-County North Middle School. Lydia will receive a framed certificate of her drawing and a $25 Amazon gift card.
“A special thanks goes out to Henny Penny for their generous donation of the Amazon gift cards that went to these deserving students. The Preble County Solid Waste District would also like to thank each of the county’s sixth grade students who participated in this Earth Day Poster Contest. We had so many great entries it was very hard to choose a winner.”
According to Smith, the event does not change much from year to year. Presenters who have been involved in the past are normally invited back each year. However, the students do change every year and Smith makes an effort to make the experience different for teachers, by not assigning them to the same demonstrations they saw the year before.
As for why Earth Day is important for the middle school students to experience, Smith said, “Without our natural resources we really wouldn’t have anything. So, we try to encourage the kids to learn more about natural resources and to appreciate them, so that as they group up they can help take care of the Earth and its resources.
“We get really good feedback every year from the kids, teachers, and presenters. Everyone really enjoys it. Anytime you get kids doing things that are hands on and outdoors, they really make connections to how it matters to their lives. That is when the learning really sinks in and they can use it and apply it.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH