Environmental Field Days
The sixth grade science curriculum in North Carolina focuses on ecosystems, the plants and animals that thrive in them and the interdependence of all living things. As part of these lessons, school children are taught about conservation practices, but often lack the hands-on experience of seeing these practices put into effect.
On May 4th, Montgomery Cooperative Extension partnered with Montgomery Soil and Water, Montgomery County Beekeepers Association, the U.S. Forestry Service, Town Creek Indian Mound, Pee Dee Wildlife Refuge and Pee Dee Electric to present the annual Environmental Field Days where all 6th graders gathered to increase their environmental awareness and understanding of local ecosystems. There were seven stations set up across Mount Gilead’s Stanback Park: Bees and Beekeeping, Wildlife Identification, Forestry, Electricity, Conservation Jeopardy, Historic Sites Conservation and Local Agriculture.
Montgomery County Beekeepers Association President Molly Kinney talked about keeping honey bees and handed out local honey samples on an EcoTensil (an environmentally friendly, sustainable, disposable paper spoon).
The forest service talked about the controlled burning of forested lands as well as the significance of landowners creating and maintaining a working forest management plan. At the Wildlife Identification station, Janet Gilreath spoke about the major wildlife species in our area and gave the young people the opportunity to touch the pelts of these various species. Town Creek Indian Mound’s Daniel Alexi demonstrated spear throwing for the participants and discussed with them the recent renovations and conservation practices enacted at the mound in order to preserve “one of the most popular State Historic Site’s in North Carolina”.
Richard Goforth, Area Poultry Specialist with Cooperative Extension, educated the group about the importance of poultry to the local economy and how producers do their part to keep the environment healthy. He also had some broiler chicks for the young people to look at and hold.
Jamie Warner, Montgomery County Livestock Agent played a game of Conservation Jeopardy where the contestants got to play each other and show off their knowledge about Soils, Water, Air, Plants and Animals. After the game, she facilitated a discussion about the consequences to humans and our environment if either of those categories were to be damaged irreversibly.
There were 152 people that participated in this event. After completing all 7 stations, the participants were more aware of conservation and what they could do to help protect our natural resources. They had increased their knowledge on Bees and other pollinators, alternative energies, soil and water conservation practices and wildlife maintenance. This program increased awareness and understanding by connecting young people and their teachers to environmental preservation in a positive, hands-on way.