Conservation fair draws 800 elementary students
Union — On Sept. 27, more than 800 elementary students from Knox and Lincoln counties enjoyed a sunny, warm, and breezy day while learning about the environment at Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water District’s Conservation Fair.
The fair, now in its 12th year, is held annually at the Union Fairgrounds on the fourth Thursday in September and alternates between hosting elementary and middle school students. This year, first through fourth-graders from local schools were treated to a wide variety of exhibits, demonstrations, and activities designed to increase their environmental literacy, knowledge of local natural resource issues, and have fun while doing it.
Between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., students, teachers, and chaperones had the opportunity to visit 30 exhibits ranging from salt or fresh water touch tanks from the Darling Marine Center and Coastal Children’s Museum to forest tree or wildlife skin and skull identification presented by Maine Forest Service and Inland Fish & Wildlife, as well as pollination and seed dispersal activities by Merryspring Nature Center and Coastal Maine Botanical Garden or blueberry conservation and fiber spinning demonstrations by Natural Resources Conservation Service and Midcoast Spinners.
New this year was the 4-H Farm to Fair Exhibit staffed by Ellie Libby from UM Cooperative Extension and volunteers and staff from Aldemere Farm. Another big hit was the presentation on preventing forest fires: Sue Myers of Maine Forest Service roamed the grounds with Smokey Bear. Myers told the cautionary tale of the young bear cub’s rescue from a forest fire while Smokey himself high-fived, bear-hugged, and danced with any willing kids. For the younger kids, district staff orchestrated a scavenger hunt with nature riddles and passport booklets to be stamped, while older students answered questions as they followed the Conservation Trail.
Three featured presentations rounded out the day. Wind Over Wings, a wildlife education center in Dresden, presented a program with live, rehabilitated birds; two owls, a falcon, and a raven, providing students with an opportunity to make a personal connection with wildlife in aid of fostering a responsible stewardship of the environment. Matt Loosigan, of Earth Jams Music for kids and the environment, had a chorus of 200 kids singing along with him and his guitar at each of four concerts, and St. George Carriage Company provided horse-drawn wagon rides around the fairgrounds.