Children learn value of Earth at conservation carnival
By Jane Hill
TRACE STATE PARK – How fast can you sort out your recyclables?
That and many other questions about the environment were posed to about 200 Pontotoc County fifth-graders Thursday and Friday at the annual Conservation Carnival at Trace State Park in Pontotoc County.
On Friday, Pontotoc City Schools fifth-graders were being educated about everyday household garbage by members of Pontotoc High School’s ecology class. The Trash Bash relay race was designed to make kids think about the things they throw away every day that could be recycled, said Rob Huddleston, a senior at Pontotoc High School.
The children were divided into teams. Members of each team were asked to run to a pile of trash and select two items at a time then run back to ecology club members who were holding bags for particular recyclables, including aluminum, plastic, ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals, Huddleston said.
Matthew Brown, 11, said the game did make him think more about what he threw away.
“I think all people in the world should try to recycle,” Brown said. “I care about the animals so I cut the plastic drink can holders so the animals won’t choke or drown on them.”
Pontotoc County school children learned about the importance of preventing soil erosion and how aquatic animals and man depend on clean fresh water for their survival.
Harry Patterson, district conservationist for Pontotoc County, said this is the eighth year that the carnival has been held for the purpose of raising students’ awareness of environmental issues as they affect worldwide food production, recycling of resources and how the environment in their home county has changed over the centuries.
Nine different public agencies or clubs demonstrated basic environmental principles to the children in 15-minute “mini classes,” Patterson said.
One special feature of the carnival is the class presented by the Pontotoc High School ecology class, whose students give their younger counterparts the basics on the importance of recycling household waste to not only conserve resources, but cut down on the space and expense needed to bury garbage.
The ecology class presenting this year’s program is special, said their teacher Martha Crawford, because the high school seniors were some of the students who attended the first conservation carnival seven years ago.
“This is so much fun. I think the seniors are having as much fun as the littler kids,” Crawford said. “This is bringing back some memories for some of my students of when they came out here.”
Other programs that are presented to the children during the daylong carnival include classes on water safety presented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; a class on tree planting and the role that trees play in the environment presented by members of the Mississippi Forestry Commission; and a demonstration by the Soil Conservation office on what causes and what prevents the loss of precious topsoil.