Fifth-graders learn outside the classroom at Earth Wellness Festival

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Owls, snakes and fifth-graders teamed up for the Earth Wellness Festival Monday (continuing into Tuesday) at Southeast Community College in Lincoln. Students from the fifth-grade classes of Lincoln Public Schools were a part of the county-wide celebration.

In one classroom, with Schoo Middle School teacher Jessica Wehner, students stood in line forming a ‘river,’ with each person holding a piece of trash. As the river flows, each student had to pass their piece of trash to their left, signifying the growing amount of trash with just one piece of trash per person.

A presentation on raptors took up half the gym, with students dodging a hawk and various owls. The trained birds were from the World Bird Sanctuary located near St. Louis, Mo., and they flew from one presenter to the other and back again, showing no fear of the students by flying within feet of their heads. Students saw a Harris’ Hawk, American Kestrel and a Bald Eagle rescued in Nebraska. They also saw three owls: Eurasian Eagle Owl, Eastern Screech Owl and European Barn Owl.

Students in other classrooms saw live critters and had presentations on water, wildlife, recycling or built 3-D rain gardens. John Chapo and John Wallace of Lincoln Children’s Zoo had an armadillo named Fez (which is the name for a group of armadillos), a python and a turtle. Turtles, the students learned, are slow in part because they don’t have to be fast, able to hide in their shells when attacked.

The Earth Wellness Festival is an annual event started in 1994 by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Office in Lancaster County. Partners include Southeast Community College, Cooperative Extension-UNL, Ventures in Partnerships, Lincoln Public Schools, Water Center-UNL, School of Natural Resources-UNL, Lincoln?Lancaster County Health Dept, Lower Platte South NRD, City of Lincoln.

Published: March 29, 2011, Updated: March 29, 2011