Students explore nature at Environmental Field Days

WESTPORT - Students in schools across Essex County recently had an opportunity to learn about the natural world from local people who work with it on a daily basis.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County's 4-H Program, together with the Essex County Soil and Water District, held its Environmental Field Days May 18 and 20 at the Essex County Fairgrounds.

About 300 students in grades five and six from Westport, Moriah, Crown Point, Elizabethtown-Lewis, Willsboro, Keene, Schroon Lake, and Minerva school districts participated in the annual event that brings in local experts in Environmental Science for a day of fun-filled learning.

4-H resource educator Linda Gilliland said the program's goal is to spark the students' interest in Environmental Science and raise awareness of environmental issues.

Several local volunteers came to present and teach, including meteorologist Gib Brown, DEC forestry specialist Tate Connor, and NRCS soil scientist Jerry Smith.

A new addition this year was Adirondack Wildlife Rehabilitation's Wendy Hall, who discussed the basics of her work with a presentation of live birds of prey.

"There are so many different directions you can go in Environmental Science," said Essex County Soil and Water District's Dave Reckahn, noting how the program gives students a taste of many careers that are prevalent in the area.

Students were also exposed to lessons in tree planting, water ecosystems, energy use, and plant science.

"It's awesome," said ELCS fifth grader Sedona Fogelsanger, noting how Environmental Field Days exposed her to several new ideas such as different plant and animal species and how foresters can use a stick to estimate a tree's height from a distance. "It's really fun."

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