Students learn about the earth and environment at SCC

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Hill Elementary students, Maddie Rink and Ansley Hinrichs, look at the Kookaburra.
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The Lincoln Children's Zoo brought a variety of animals including this skunk.
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Kelsey McCord, from the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, Missouri, handled a bald eagle.
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5th graders watch the Raptor show during the Earth Wellness Festival

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.

“Thirty-five-hundred fifth-grade 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.

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For more information contact:
Andrea Gallagher Haggar
Marketing Specialist
402-323-3395
ahaggar@southeast.edu