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Zoo animals will be at EnviroFest

Staff writer

A presentation about Kansas animals, featuring animals from David Traylor Zoo of Emporia, will be among the presentations Tuesday at the second annual Marion County EnviroFest for fourth-grade students.

Peggy Blackman, Marion Reservoir Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies director, said she expects 110 to 125 students at the event. Marion, Hillsboro, Peabody-Burns, and Centre elementary students will participate in the event. She said she has also invited home-school families and Cottonwood Grove Christian School. The 2010 event had approximately 70 attendees, because only Hillsboro and Marion participated.

EnviroFest will be from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Central Park in Marion. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be moved to Marion Elementary School. The public is welcome to attend, Blackman said.

The event essentially takes the place of Earth Day events for sixth-graders, because the state’s curriculum calls for watershed education in fourth grade, Blackman said.

“It’s successful because the community is involved,” she said.

In addition to the animals, Blackman expects exhibits about soil and watersheds will be highlights of the event. The soil exhibit features a life-size cross section of Kansas soil, showing the thickness of layers, soil and plant structures, and the effects of animals in the soil, she said.

Other presentations

A rainfall simulator will be presented by Marion County Conservation District and Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Lloyd Davies of Marion, who organized a cleanup day at Marion Reservoir, will present a program about the importance of invertebrates as indicators of water quality.

Davies has been involved in studying water quality since he was a volunteer at Lakeside Nature Center in Kansas City. While he was there, volunteers adopted a stretch of the Blue River as a Missouri Stream Team. When he moved back to Marion, he started a Stream Team for the Cottonwood River.

Macro-invertebrate sampling — counting the number of different kinds of visible insects, mollusks, and crustaceans in a stream — indicates water quality because different species have different tolerances for pollution, he said.

If only the most pollution-tolerant species are in a stream, that is usually a bad sign. But if there is only one species present and it is very sensitive to pollution, that can still be a bad sign, he said. It could indicate that algae that the species exclusively feeds on has choked out plants that other insects rely on.

Davies gave the same presentation at the first EnviroFest in 2010.

“It was a ball,” he said.

Officials from Milford Reservoir will involve students in games related to the water cycle.

Whole-wheat advocate Mary Beth Bowers will discuss the making of flour and bread with students. Blackman said she even expects Bowers will bake bread at the event.

County Environmental Health Director Tonya Richards will present a program titled “Enviroscape.”

Last modified Sept. 29, 2011

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