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Earth Day EcoFair Raises Environmental Awareness for Hundreds of Students

April 22, 2008 — Eager public school students went from one display to another Tuesday in an Earth Day EcoFair at St. George Village Botanical Garden on St. Croix, learning how they can protect the environment.
"We hope the students take information back to class and use it the rest of the year, reinforcing what they learned," said Carol Crammer-Burke, program director at the St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA).
SEA, along with the V.I. Waste Management Authority, sponsored the fair, now in its 15th year. More than 1,000 students came to the Fair Tuesday, with 800 private-school students registered for Wednesday.
"The turnout may have been bigger than in past years," said Vanessa Forbes, director of the EcoFair and environmental educator at SEA. "I went out like a lioness to promote the fair at schools and to exhibitors."
Responding to her encouragement were 17 government and private organizations, which set up interactive displays and games geared toward students in third through sixth grades. Tents were set up on the Great House lawn and even inside the Great House itself.
Hovensa had a large tent with seven different stations. Employees of the refinery described how they monitor air quality and check for leaks. Matt Merren told the students how Hovensa re-refines used oil and makes new oil from it.
From the V.I. Department of Agriculture, Marilyn Chakroff of the Forest Division told students about the benefits of trees. At the horticulture table, students made pots from old newspapers to transport their own basil plant.
Lessons about coral came from William Coles, on hand from the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Department of Natural Resources (DPNR). He advised children not to take dead coral from beaches, demonstrating how coral rubbed together makes sand. Sandy Point had dunes at one time, but the sand from them was sold, he told students.
"We need to use our natural resources responsibly," Coles told students.
Students could also play a game with sea creatures and trash describing the connection between habitats and how everyday human interaction can be harmful to the creatures. It was offered by Migdalia Roach from East End Marine Park, also under DPNR.
"I had fun with the games," said Asher Jones, a student from Alfredo Andrews Elementary School. "I wish we could do this more often."
New this year was the Litter Stomp march to promote stomping out litter. More than 235 students, teachers and VIWMA employees took part marching down Queen Mary Highway from the VIWMA office in Estate Williams Delight to the Botanical Garden. Students carried banners and signs made from recyclables using anti-litter slogans, representing Country Day, Juanita Gardine, Pearl B. Larsen and Lew Muckle elementary schools.
"The Stomp was a way for the students to show they care," said Stomp organizer Dee Osinski, environmental educator at VIWMA. "The eyes of the community were on the students making a statement about litter."
Organizers got a positive reaction from the Stomp and plan to do it again.
"The students got a lot of useful information today that we will take back and use in class and daily life," said Claire Lewis, fifth grade teacher at Lew Muckle Elementary School.
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