Thousands of students
transcended onto Southeast Community College’s Lincoln Campus March 21 and 22 as
they learned about the earth and the environment. It was all part of the 23rd
Annual Earth Wellness Festival.
students will attend the Earth Wellness Festival,” said McKenzie Barry, an
environmental education specialist with the Lower Platte South Natural
Resources District. “Our goal is to create a platform for the students attending
to be inspired, educated and create some fun memories in the process.”
Students from all over
Lancaster County were able to learn more about local wildlife, pollution,
groundwater, recycling, and endangered animals, among other things. Youth were
able to get up close and personal with turtles, birds, alligators, a skunk, and
an endangered African Serval Cat. The cat, originally from Africa, jumped more
than 10 feet in the air for the children to watch.
The day was capped off with
the Raptor show, which featured hawks, owls, kestrels, and a bald eagle. In
addition to birds flying over their heads, students learned about the unique
characteristics, habitat and what the wildlife like to eat.
“If this owl could read, he
would be able to read a newspaper from as far away as a football field,” said
Kelsey McCord, one of the bird handlers who talked about their keen eyesight
and ability to hunt prey.
Barry has been organizing
this event for 15 years and says she loves to see the children learn about the
environment in which they live.
“My favorite part is kids
coming together to learn about stuff right in their backyard like wildlife,
groundwater and pollution,” she said.
She said the event began in
1994 when a group of Lincoln Public School teachers petitioned to have a local
festival in Lancaster County. Since it began, around 70,000 students have
attended the festival.
Sponsoring agencies include
SCC, the Lower Platte South NRD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension,
Lancaster County, Lincoln Public Schools, the City of Lincoln, The
Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, the UNL School of Natural Resources,
and Keep Lincoln-Lancaster County Beautiful.
Youth from more than 50
public and private schools attended the festival.