Knox-County Soil & Water Conservation Fair draws 500
Union — Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District held its annual Conservation Fair at the Union Fairgrounds Sept. 26.
This year more than 450 middle-school students from Knox and Lincoln county schools, their teachers and chaperones were all treated to more than 20 exhibits and demonstrations by state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations on various aspects of land and water conservation, energy efficiency, and the benefits of local and sustainable food production.
Knox-Lincoln SWCD offers this event free to Knox and Lincoln students. A. E. Sampson & Son, Good Tern Coop, Rising Tide Coop, and Viking Lumber sponsored the event.
Throughout the day, student groups cycled through the exhibits, interacting with presenters and getting hands-on experience at more than 20 exhibits and presentations. This year’s featured presenters were Wind Over Wings of Dresden, who taught the students about — and brought with them — raptors of all sizes, from a tiny saw-whet owl to an imposing raven; and Earth Jams, an interactive environmental music performance by the engaging Matt Loosigan. Maine state government was represented by the Maine Forest Service, with two stations on Tree ID, while the two Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry displays highlighted Ant Antics and Invasive Forest Pests. The USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service exhibit, Conservation Practices Benefitting Wild Blueberries, used the wild blueberries onsite for demonstration.
Fifteen additional stations introduced students, teachers and parents to a wide array of conservation and environmental topics, including: Marine Touch Tank by Darling Marine Center, Backyard Wildlife Habitats by Merryspring Nature Center, Plant ID Using Digital Field Guides by Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and All About Watersheds by Maine Association of Conservation Districts. Nutritious, locally-grown food and agriculture presenters included: Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools, Maine Agriculture In The Classroom/Maine School Garden Network, and UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Farm to Fair exhibit. Local entrepreneurs made a bit hit with Alternative Energy Transportation, comprised of two vehicles they built: Jory Squibb’s Sunbeam Cycle Car and the Bill Buchholz’s diesel-powered, 3-wheel Dirigo car, which gets 85 mpg.
One of the KLSWCD goals for the Conservation Fair is to encourage opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, as demonstrated by the middle school students in Herring Gut Learning Center’s aquaponics program for a number of years. These students bring their traveling aquaponics display, as well as pH and bacteria sampling equipment, every year to show other students how they grow fish and lettuce symbiotically. This year, Hope Elementary seventh-graders developed a series of wildlife board games for the Coastal Mountain Land Trust Go Scat exhibit and exhibited them at the fair.
For a complete list of exhibitors, a slideshow of this year’s highlights, and information on how students can participate in the Conservation Fair, visit knox-lincoln.org/conservation-fair/.