WILKES-BARRE — Elementary-aged students in Luzerne County will be able to celebrate Earth Day on Friday will a full menu of events in and near Kirby Park.
John Mayday, executive director of the nonprofit Riverfront Parks Committee, said the day will also include 30 exhibitors, ranging from Pennsylvania American Water to PPL Utilities.
“And most of them are interactive,” Mayday said.
Though the day is designed for children to learn about ways to protect and save the Earth, it’s also a “celebration.”
“It’s a way to teach students at a very early age,” said Mayday. “They can take it with them the rest of their lives.”
He said most adults don’t realize what happens when they throw a plastic bottle on the ground or in a stream.
Because the Susquehanna River is in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Mayday said throwing a bottle into a stream on a rainy day will cause it to be carried to the river and then into the bay, which leads to the Atlantic Ocean.
“It will then circumnavigate the globe,” he explained, noting by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s waterways.
Dr. Brian Mangan, professor of environmental science and biology at King’s College, said getting children involved in saving the Earth at an early age is “essential.”
“It’s key to have them see people get excited about the environment,” said Mangan, who has been studying the local river for more than 35 years.
During that time, the Susquehanna has “come along way,” the professor said. Some of the positive changes have been a decrease in mine drainage and an improvement in the water’s ecosystem.
Mangan explained bugs, which live at the bottom of the river, have returned and the fish have responded well to the change. The Susquehanna is now also home to a “significant bass population.”
“Small habits form big changes,” Mangan said, noting there is still “room for improvement.”
Mayday said students will visit the “natural part of Kirby Park” where the zoo used to be, allowing them to see the different types of flora and fauna that thrive there.
“The landscape is constantly changing … because it floods,” Mayday said.
Classes interested in participating in Friday’s event must be chaperoned.
For more information or to register your class, call the Penn State Extension at 570-825-1701.
Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko