EcoFest teaches good stewardship

ARLINGTON — Inspired by the Arlington School District’s efforts to be good stewards of the earth, parents and teachers at Eagle Creek Elementary School planned a day full of fun activities for their students April 30.

Their EcoFest 2009 started with a $431 grant from PUD, said the school librarian, Jacqueline Arnold.

“Even the students have been asking for new books on recycling and the environment,” Arnold said, adding their nonfiction collection was getting a bit outdated.

“The kids have an interest in the environment and are eager to learn as much as they can,” she added.

The school’s PTA applied for grant in October to help expand the school’s collection of nonfiction books about the environment. They received the money in November and immediately started to plan this new event, said Eco-Fest co-chair Laura Denovan.

“We are also very grateful for the $720 for supplies from the Stillaguamish Tribe,” she added.

The PUD grant was used to purchase books on salmon and hydropower for the accelerated readers list, with a bit of extra to compliment the Stillaguamish Tribe’s donation to help pay for some of the many projects presented at the day-long EcoFest.

Many of the projects come from the state Fish and Wildlife Department’s Salmon Trunk, that the school borrowed for a month, Denovan said.

“It’s full of a whole bunch of stuff,” said the environmentally-aware parent who is restoring a stretch of Eagle Creek on her property on the lowland behind the school, near where fifth-graders planted trees with Franchesca Perez from the Stillaguamish Tribe’s natural resources department.

Denovan and her fellow co-chair, Hillary McGuire were joined by parents Kimberly Stevenson, Suzanne Garrett and Verlaine Meyers, in planning and many other teachers and parents who helped present stations on the day of the event.

Teachers didn’t have to help plan or do any extra work during the event, unless, of course, they wanted to, according to the parents.

The teachers did help a lot in the end. Along with librarian Jacqueline Arnold, Vicki Grende was also very active on the planning committee, Denovan said.

“Since the Arlington School District is trying to do the right thing in stewardship, energy conservation and recycling, we wanted to support them by helping teach the students,” Denovan said.

Running during the entire school day, EcoFest 2009 featured a variety of stations that taught students about recycling, energy and water conservation, salmon, watersheds, trees, composting, and other environmental issues.

“Teachers were invited to sign up for time slots at the event,” Arnold said.

One of the stations featured stories from some of 40 new books paid for by PUD.

Two young ladies, Hannah Calapp and Siarah Penter, demonstrated a traditional dance under the guidance of Rosie Cayou and drummer Frank Penter.

A local author, Ben Curley showed students how to recognize Northwest trees, and read from his book, “Curley’s Tales of Truth.”

The Tulalip Tribes Qualco Power offered a demonstration on using cow manure to create power.

Snohomish County PUD provided a display on energy conservation and the kids had a chance to build their own wind turbines.

A puppet show presented by students in the school’s enhanced learning program featured characters acting out the life cycle of a salmon.

The city of Arlington’s resource manager, Bill Blake helped kids identify bugs that reflect the health of the river and the ecosystem.

Snohomish Conservation District offered displays on the watershed and how toxins erode into the river.

Parent Kimberly Stevenson showed kids how to grow worms in compost and a local company, Outback Power from the Arlington Airport created a solar race car game.

“When the sun hits it, the car goes,” Denovan said.

A recycling game challenged contestants to decide which items were recyclable and which were not and at another station kids made bracelets representing the life-cycle of a salmon.

“The pink beads represent salmon eggs,” Denovan explained, adding that each bead represented a different stage of the salmon’s life.

The event was an elaborate feat of choreography, with events in the library, in classrooms, and outside, that kept the children busy all day long.

“We know that these hands-on learning experiences will make lingering memories for our students,” McGuire said.

“We hope that this is the first of many more EcoFests in the future,” said the principal of the school, Denise Putnam.

Bella Gaia from NASA on Earth Day

Eagle Creek fifth-graders were one of six schools across the nation that participated in a very special Earth Day program, according to school board president Kay Duskin.

They enjoyed an interactive video production of Bella Gaia from the NASA Digital Learning Network. Other schools were in Texas, Illinois, California, Mississippi and Georgia.

“It was thanks to fifth- grade teacher Leslie Faxon who made the initial contact to participate,” Duskin said.

Click here for more photos.

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