Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 20, 2013

Students learn of need to take care of environment

Tim Preston
Associated Press

ASHLAND — A room full of second-grade students had no problems understanding the need to care for their environment, according to Lena Reese, who visited Poage Elementary Friday morning for an early Earth Day celebration.

Reese, assistant for the Nutrition Education Program at the Boyd County Extension Office, said she was greatly rewarded by her time with students in Rhonda McLain’s second-grade class, and a bit surprised by the children’s understanding of the issue. Their time together included reading the book “The Surprise Garden,” with follow-up activities including the germination of a sunflower seed, crucial to the plot of the book, in recycled newspaper planters.

“They learned a new word today — biodegradable,” Reese said, citing the use of recycled newspapers to serve as planters which will allow the kids to germinate the seeds in the classroom window before taking their sunflower plants home and putting the entire thing directly into a hole for further growth. The initial seed planting was a job each pupil took quite seriously, she noted.

“They were so concerned that those plants weren’t going to make it if they did even one step wrong,” she said with a soft smile, adding she was tickled by the youngsters’ speculations about the future of their sunflowers. “They would say things like, ‘This is going to be as tall as my house!’”

The students’ understanding of things including landfill space, recycling and repurposing was impressive, Reese said.

“I came in and they were prepped for it,” she said, crediting the advance work of their teacher.

“Even in second grade they realize what is going to happen if we don’t take care of it,” she observed, crediting the themes and messages included in children’s movies such as “The Lorax” and “Wall-E,” among others, for planting the seeds of environmental awareness.

“We have some really great educators. They take the time to explain things to their kids,” Reese said, just before adding, “Of course, they also have some who ask where the candy grows.”

Reese said she is available for public education programs and has several school programs scheduled. For more information call the Boyd County Extension Office at (606) 739-5184.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.