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|Pledging to stay green....|
Hundreds of local school children pledged to be "superheroes for the environment" this week and agreed to do their part to keep the community clean and attractive for all residents.
Earth Day activities kicked off Tuesday at West Monroe's Restoration Park where several local schools joined area officials to learn how to become more environmentally friendly.
Central Elementary fourth grade teacher Katina Brown was just as excited about the event as the 178 students from her school who toured restoration park.
"This is great … we all had a great time," Brown said as she watched her students run to make their environmental pledges and to get some ice cream.
"They had a lot of activities today, and I think they learned a lot," she said.
Students learned about water safety and the importance of not littering. They also listened as experts discussed plants, insects, birds and animals.
"They learned a lot about termites, how to recognize them and what they look like around their house and what to do to get rid of them," Brown continued. "We talked about fire safety, wildfires and how they start and how to prevent them.
"This was all about Earth Day. They learned about littering and how they can keep the earth clean and help preserve it so we all can enjoy it."
Sandra Bourgeois, West Monroe's director of parks and recreation, said the students grabbed trash bags and moved through restoration park picking up litter. Most of them returned with their bags stuffed with litter. They also made sure that before they left, the area was as clean as when they entered, Bourgeois said.
"That really touched me because they took it so seriously, and that's what we want," Bourgeois said.
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers officials visited with the students and showed them some of the trash the Corps removes from the river. They told the students that Scouts their age often help Corps with the litter pickup efforts.
"They showed us different things they got out of the river and talked about how just throwing trash on the ground can wind up in our streams and rivers," Brown said.
Brown especially liked the discussion about water safety because she remembers how much she swam as a child.
"I spent a lot of time in the water as a kid and we probably did things we shouldn't have, and I know kids today spend a lot of time in the water, so it's good to hear how to stay safe," Brown said.
About 125 students from Boley Elementary toured restoration park Wednesday. On Thursday (today), 130 Kiroli Elementary students participated in Earth Day activities.
Bourgeois showed them the butterflies that were raised inside the butterfly screen house located at the entrance of the park. Students toured the mile-long trail and looked for different plant and tree species as well as various wildlife, which can be found living in the park.
"I gave them a quick history of restoration park and how it came to be, which is a pretty interesting story with it being a former dump site and gravel pit," she said. "They loved that, and then, of course, they went down in the park and looked for evidence of what I said. We talked about gardening, protecting our ground water and forest fires. It was hands-on education and we had a good time."
Earth Day activities have been held at restoration park for the past four years. Each year, children are given tee shirts and Blue Bell Ice Cream donates treats for the students and teachers.
The students also were given cards showing that they are certified superheroes for the environment, which they used when making their pledge to be caretakers of the earth.