Selma, Dallas County students get close look at nature

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

What does the skin of a snake feel like?

Is a crab’s shell hard?

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What happens to oil when it drains from the driveway?

How do you make paper?

These are just some of the questions answered during the annual Earth Day event, held Wednesday at the Old Armory on Dallas Avenue.

“Children must constantly be taught and then reinforced with the importance of taking care of our planet,” said Janis Stewart, principal at Meadowview Elementary School.

Meadowview has held the Earth Day celebration for the past eight years. Approximately 1,500 students were expected to view the exhibits, put on voluntarily by about 75 presenters.

“They are taught how to be safe on the water, and how to keep the water safe,” Stewart said. Students also get a lesson on how to make paper, from the source, presented by Super Tree Nursery, to the IP Riverdale Mill’s exhibit, which allows students to make their own paper.

“They take a piece of paper home that they’ve made,” Stewart said.

Students enjoyed an exhibit including several different snakes, provided by F.W. “Sonny” Eiland, a biology instructor at Wallace Community College Selma.

Some of Eiland’s students held snakes, allowing students to get an up-close look at the reptiles.

“This is an outreach we do to interact with the community,” Eiland said. “Janis Stewart does a wonderful thing with Earth Day. She has been named one of the most outstanding educators in the state. She’s a credit to the community.”

Stewart said she encourages students to think about their own home; how long would it take for dust or trash to accumulate if no one was taking care of the home.

“How quickly would your home get to where you can’t live in it?” she said. “It’s the same with the earth. This is our home. We’ve all got to do our part.”

Meadowview’s fifth graders serve as presenters and helpers during the event, moving from one exhibit to the other to help.

“We learned about nature,” said fifth-grader Alan Gaylor. “And about water safety.”

Fifth graders Austin Smyly and Bryan Archer said they learned that if you litter the water, you can kill the fish. As for what happens to oil when it drains from your driveway, Archer said, “It will also get in the earth.”

Among the exhibitors were the city of Selma, which is the Butterfly Capital of Alabama; International Paper and its nursery; the Army Corps of Engineers; the National Weather Service; the Alabama Marine Resources Division; the Alabama Department of Freshwater Fisheries, the Elks Club; Wallace Community College Selma; and others.

WHBB broadcast live from the event, interviewing presenters, as well as students.