CAMDEN — Preble County sixth graders recently took a field trip to learn about protecting natural resources and the environment.
On Thursday, April 27, local schools gathered their sixth graders at PVM Camp for the annual event sponsored by Preble Soil and Water Conservation District (PSWCD) and Preble County Solid Waste Management District (PCSWMD).
The event featured presentations related to forestry, beekeeping, land use management, soils, Native Americans, maple syrup production, agriculture and food production, wildlife, energy production, and vermiculture (worm farming). Over 490 students had the opportunity to participate in education activities and games, intended to get the students involved and active.
Students had the opportunity to dress in beekeeping protective gear, witness a native American tribal dance, participate in the cardboard recycling process, use land surveying equipment, learn the reasons for using caution with electricity, role play decision making related to land use management and zoning, and see skulls, furs, Native American artifacts and Ohio native animals.
The district has hosted this outdoor event for the past 18 years. This year featured 22 presenters, which sixth grade classes from all of the Preble County schools, including home schooled students, got to experience. Each class got to see five different presenters over the course of the day.
PSWCD District Administrator and Technician BJ Price said, “Anything natural resources related, we try to get presenters that are experts who volunteer their time to come talk about it, give the students ideas of ways to use and conserve our natural resources. Ways they can use them, but still leave them in better shape for the next generation.”
He added that his favorite thing about the event is bringing up these unique topics to the students. “Topics that are maybe a little bit off the wall,” he added. “Something that maybe isn’t in a textbook. We have a guy that has a warm farm and he has worms that are spread out on a table and students get up close and personal with mammal skulls and animal furs, things that they can touch and feel.”
He said that it’s a new experience for the kids, an experience they probably wouldn’t get if not for this event.
One presenter, David Isaacs, attended the event to teach students about sustainable forestry and maple sugar making. “This being an Earth Day activity, there’s an awful lot of different components,” he said. “In particular, I’m here to talk about how we can use forest sustainability so they’re here year after year, day after day, for future generations, but we can still extract a product out of that forest so that we can use it for our own pleasure or recreational use. Without destroying the forest.”
Another presenter, Alex Zomchek, is a bee keeper who does research at Miami University. This was actually his seventh year at this earth day event. He said, “We are literally here, not just to talk about bees, which would be easy, but it’s fascinating that kids already know that bees are having a tough time, but that it’s about pollination and their relationship to providing us food. That’s the connection that we’re trying to make, and to entertain them along the way.”
Being a return presenter, Zomchek said that he “loves” the event and looks forward to it every year. “I get to be a sixth grader again, my Peter Pan self is just ecstatic.”
SCSWMD also held a poster contest for the students. Every year they have a theme and the kids submit posters. The winning design gets a t-shirt made and then there’s prizes awarded for top posters. That presentation, followed up a recognition of sponsors, came after lunch.
Price added that some presenters have been at the event since the start of it and are simply asked to return each year. However, they do get new presenters each year.
“It takes months and months of planning and organization to put this on and in a mornings time it’s come and gone, but it’s a great experience for the students,” Price said.
Sponsors included: Preble County Commissioners, Jubilee, PVM Camp, and Quaker Trace Tractor. PSWCD and PCSWMD recognized school administrators, teachers, students, FFA members, and camp staff for their efforts in making Earth Day possible.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH