Enthusiastic young students help celebrate Earth Day – Every Day

FORT KENT, Maine — First grade students from Fort Kent Elementary School visited the University of Maine at Fort Kent Sports Center, Thursday, April 13, to attend the campus’ “Earth Day – Every Day” event.

Although Earth Day is actually April 22, many groups have activities and events in the week leading up to the date, during what is often called “Earth Week.”

“I helped start if 12 years ago as part of a homework assignment,” said Leslie Kelly, associate dean of information services at UMFK. This year Kelly and Doris Metz, associate professor of curriculum and instruction at UMFK, organized the festivities, which included a variety of educational and activity stations.

“It’s nice to have the students come at an early age and learn about these topics. Hopefully they get excited about it,” Kelly commented. “It’s also good for our students who will be teachers some day.”

UMFK education students led and helped design the activity centers, which included topics in ecology, environmental science, forestry and biology. Many of the stations were hands-on, allowing the children to handle earthworms, examine animal tracks and experiment with water pollution.

Other Earth Day activities at UMFK this year included learning the basics of recycling, identifying trees, exploring wind energy, geology, and creating a bird feeder. Each student was also given a birder’s notebook to encourage bird watching.

Also on hand Thursday were members of the Maine Forest Service and their longtime mascot Smokey the Bear. Forest Rangers Richard Martin and Sean Lizotte spoke to the students about forest fire prevention.

Martin has missed only one year making an appearance at UMFK’s Earth Day event.

“It’s satisfying being around these young kids,” said Martin. “We like to give them the message about being safe with fire. And, they always have so much fun.”

Martin said that the time he and others spend at events like these and visiting classrooms seems to have had an impact in reducing carelessness with fire in the woods.

“Fire prevention starts right here,” Martin said, pointing to the groups of young students in the UMFK gymnasium.

For Lizotte, who is a 1991 UMFK graduate and who owned a Maine guiding service in Allagash for 21 years, being at UMFK is a sort of homecoming.

“It brings back some good memories,” said Lizotte, who graduated with a degree in environmental studies. “Its nice to see the young students’ enthusiasm.”

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