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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Earth Day Session Teaches Kids Reuse and Respect

Earth Day Session Teaches Kids 
Reuse and Respect:
Audubon focuses on recycling and endangered animals
(Posted to 4/24)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – The hope was to enjoy a little fresh air and a walk in the Larsen Sanctuary, but torrents of rain drove visitors indoors. Despite the disappointing weather, families still learned a little appreciation for their planet.

Marking Earth Day, the Audubon Society at 2325 Burr Street, offered a program Saturday morning in which children and their parents could collaborate on craft activities reusing scrap materials, visit with some endangered animals and watch the animated film classic “Wall-E”, showing the importance of taking care of our Earth.

Seated at a craft table working with great determination on a robot made from paper towel tubes, an egg carton and pipe cleaners, John Wilkinson, 8, from Dedham, MA, said, “It’s fun to just create something without any directions. I like inventing things. It’s good to reuse stuff ‘cause it’s good for the Earth and fun for people.”

Next to John was his brother Luke, 6, who was constructing a bird feeder using similar materials. Even their four-year-old brother, Luke, had gotten into the act, making a snake from construction paper and necklace using a pipe cleaner and colorful sections of straws.

Their dad, Dave, had seen an ad for the event in the newspaper. “We were excited to use old items to build crafts and to see the animals and birds,” he said. “We’re visiting grandma for Easter. This is a nice way to hang out and relax as a family together.”

The boys got very excited when Educator Linnea McHenry trotted out “Big Tony”. No, this was not an extra from the TV series “The Sopranos”, but an Eastern Box Turtle, which McHenry said is on the endangered species list. “A family had taken the turtle out of the wild to have as a pet and what they didn’t know is that they should never take an animal out of its habitat,” she explained. “What happens is that if you keep them past the time period when they are meant to hibernate, they forget how to. If he was placed back in the wild, he wouldn’t hibernate and would freeze to death.”

McHenry shared a few “cool facts” with the gathered group about Eastern Box Turtles. “They typically live their whole lifetime in an area no bigger than a football field,” she said. “Also, the way you can tell the difference between a male and female is by their eyes. A male has red eyes while a female has brown. Oh, and they love to eat strawberries.”

A volunteer at the Center, Kat Newquist, 16, brought a second turtle out to display and discuss. “Spot is a Spotted Turtle,” she said, “which was taken out of the wild, like Big Tony. Spotted Turtles mostly live in the water, in vernal pools, which themselves are in danger of disappearing. They are natural pools of rain water. Spotted Turtles are carnivores, which eat small fish, crickets and mealworms. Spot doesn’t seem like a carnivore – he’s so cute!”


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