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Kids learn about conservation at Environmental Field Days

Natural resources, conservation, environmental stewardship — all are important lessons for children and adults alike, and local fifth graders from all the county’s elementary schools will receive a primer on these topics before the week is done.

Teaching kids about the role people play in preserving the environment is the whole point of the Beaufort County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Dan Windley Environmental Field Days. This week, students from every school in Beaufort County will pay a visit to Goose Creek State Park to participate in the event.

“We want students to understand how important it is to help protect our environment now and for all future generations,” said Debbie Boyd, education coordinator for BCSWCD.

Cycling through six stations in the course of the afternoon, more than 600 local students will learn about a variety of ecological topics including conservation, wildlife, forestry, wetlands, soils, fisheries and vermiculture (the process of using worms for composting).

Experts in the various fields teach and answer questions at each station, ranging from agents with the local Cooperative Extension office to the N.C. Estuarium. Through hands-on activities at each station, the kids learn by doing, a change of pace from an average day in the classroom, Boyd says.

IT ALL GOES DOWNSTREAM: Beaufort County Soil and Water Conservation District Education Specialist Debbie Boyd teaches students from Bath Elementary School about the various sources of pollution they encounter in their daily lives. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

“It takes the coordination and cooperation of all presenters and agencies involved for the Dan Windley Environmental Field Days to come together,” Boyd said. “At the conservation station, I teach soil and water conservation by using an Enviroscape Point/Non-point model to show what can happen if we don’t do our part to protect the environment. We discuss ways they and others can do their part to help our environment using best management practices.”

Named for BCSWCD conservationist Dan Windley, the Environmental Field Days event has been ongoing for the past 32 years, reaching an entire generation of Beaufort County students. In 2008, after Windley passed, the event was renamed in his honor.

IT’S ALL CONNECTED: N.C. Estuarium educator Russ Chesson demonstrates the interconnectedness of nature, and how changes in one part of the ecosystem can have a ripple effect throughout. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

Boyd says she hopes that the lessons the students learn there during the Field Days will stick with them in years to come, helping them be mindful of the impact they have on the natural world around them.

“We also hope the event will generate interest for students to join an Envirothon team in middle school and high school, as those teams compete in areas that are in line with the stations at field days,” Boyd said.

To learn more about the Beaufort County Soil and Water Conservation District and the services it offers, visit co.beaufort.nc.us/departments/community-services/soil-and-water.

SOIL SCIENCE: Dr. Carl Crozier, a soil science specialist from the Vernon G, James Research Center, demonstrates how different types of soils respond to electrical charges. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

HANDS ON: Bath Elementary students investigate live worms to learn more about the composting process. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)