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Area students enjoy Earth Day at Discovery Park Campus

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Area students enjoy Earth Day at Discovery Park Campus

By Lori Dugan

Thatcher, AZ—Over 240 fifth-grade students from Pima Elementary, Thatcher Elementary, and the Discovery Plus Academy were invited to Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus on Thursday, April 21, 2016, to celebrate the 5th Annual “Earth Day at Discovery Park Campus” by participating in several activities and lessons to teach them about the outdoors and how to protect the environment.

The outdoor event provided opportunities for local youth to interact with individuals representing several state and federal agencies involved with environmental protection and public use. The students learned about several different aspects of nature and the environment as they rotated through nine, hands-on, 20-minute lessons with activities that included using test kits to determine the quality of the Discovery Park Campus Pond’s water with Byron James from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

Students also learned about differences in animals while they held and observed several types of animal skulls and skins with Devin Skinner from the Arizona Department of Game & Fish (AZG&F), and discovered the role of insects, plants, and animals in a healthy ecosystem with lessons from Maaike Schotborgh from the Wildlife Habitat Council and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold.

Elliot Pickett and the wildland firefighting crew from the Safford District of the U.S. Forest Service taught about fire safety and had some fun as they let the students spray the fire hose on the new “brush truck.”

Cindy Pearson and Bill Brandau from the U of A Graham County Extension Office, with the assistance of several EAC students from the EAC football program, taught about the benefits of rain water harvesting and had students measure buildings on the EAC Discovery Park Campus to determine how much water could actually be collected and used for landscape irrigation instead of using valuable municipal water.

EAC instructor Dave Henson and several EAC biology students shared about their work with the endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog, and how the EAC Biology Department is using the specially built ranarium to increase the numbers of these threatened frogs as they are placed back into the wild to bolster their populations.

Justin Johnson and Rachel Mor-Hla from the Gila Watershed Partnership explained the importance of watersheds, native plants, and “pollinator” insects and created “seed balls” from mud, mulch, and native plant seeds that can be easily distributed over large areas to repair and restore large areas with native vegetation.

Discovery Park Campus work study students Christian Clement and Jon Ferrin demonstrated techniques in finding and recording artifacts in the Discovery Park Campus Archaeology Pit using hand trowels, toothbrushes, and probing sticks using grid formations. The students also had an opportunity to paint and decorate festive gourds with volunteers from EAC’s Phi Theta Kappa student organization to demonstrate that everything can have a use. At the conclusion of the event the students enjoyed lunch under the trees while sharing their experiences of the day.

“The annual Earth Day at Discovery Park Campus event provides a perfect opportunity for state, federal, and local agencies to share fun educational and environmental lessons and activities to promote interest in careers in science and its practical use in protecting the environment,” said Paul Anger, Discovery Park Campus director.

“We know that our children have a love and curiosity for nature,” he said. “And by teaching to that interest, combined with best use practices and hands-on activities, we can help them to understand the world around them and inspire them to continually improve their lives, the environment, and the world for generations to come.”

For more information about Earth Day at Discovery Park Campus, contact Anger at (928) 428-6260 or by email at Paul ANGER.