Eastern Kentucky PRIDE

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Russell County’s 4th graders enjoy Eco Adventure at fish hatchery

Kristi Pupak, Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery; Jennifer Johnson, PRIDE; Jennifer Hardwick, Russell County Conservation District.
The Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery and Russell County Conservation District shared the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award for their Outdoor Eco Adventure Day for Russell County’s 4th graders. PRIDE’s Jennifer Johnson (center) presented plaques to Kristi Pupak, Environmental Education/Outreach Specialist for the fish hatchery, and Jennifer Hardwick, Russell County Conservation District.

Russell County’s 4th-grade students were treated to an Outdoor Eco Adventure Day at the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery (NFH) on Oct. 16, and the event organizers — the NFH and Russell County Conservation District — were rewarded with the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award.

A total of 281 students, teachers and volunteers participated in the event. Students enjoyed hands-on lessons in archery, the basics of fishing, the food web, soil and erosion, and trees. Also, a mobile science trailer did an activity of making lip balm and how the products used to make it are farm related.

“Eco Day was a fun way to inspire students to care for nature,” said Jennifer Johnson of PRIDE, the nonprofit organization that presented the award as part of its mission to promote environmental education in southern and eastern Kentucky.

“Staff members at the hatchery and conservation district are to be commended for creating such a beneficial event and for recruiting so many agencies to provide expertise,” Johnson said.

“This generation will paint the picture of the world in a few years, and if we don’t teach them now about conserving our natural resources, the soil will be useless,” said Jennifer Hardwick, Russell County Conservation District. “This event is just another way of getting the students out in nature and a different learning atmosphere.”

“I am blessed with a great board at the conservation district that allows me to host events like Eco Day,” Hardwick added. “They find educating our students on the environment and natural resources very important.

“The feedback from students and teachers is positive,” said James Gray, Project Leader, Wolf Creek NFH. “Teachers say their students always enjoy coming and they learn things that are important but don’t fit into the classroom experience.”

“We feel 4th graders are at the right age for this kind of environmental education experience — old enough to understand the material, but still young enough to impact their behavior,” Gray said.

4th graders also are targeted due to the science emphasis in their state testing. Eco Day — which began in 2007 —reinforces science concepts they are learning in their classrooms.

When the 4th graders arrived at Eco Day at 9 a.m., they were divided into nine groups. The groups spent 20 minutes at a station and then rotated to the next station. A lunch break was built in, and the event ended at 1:30.

At the stations, activities were led by representatives of these agencies: Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Division of Waste Management, Big South Fork National Park, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Friends of the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery and PRIDE.

The PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award rewards creative, effective ways of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship.

“We give awards to thank people and to showcase the great things going on in our region, so please contact us if you want to nominate a person, school, business or organization that is helping our environment or inspiring others to care for nature,” Johnson added. “Our toll-free number is 888.577.4339, or you can contact us through our web site.”



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