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Living with Mother Earth
Ecological celebration provides education, fun
bouncing earth
Participants in Liberty Countys Earth Day celebration Monday bounce an inflated globe to see how high they can make it fly. - photo by Photo by Randy C. Murray

Monday’s Earth Day celebration at the YMCA soccer fields was well-attended by  people covering a wide age range  who wanted to learn about taking care of the world.
“This is the seventh year for us,” said Sara Swida, event organizer and director of Keep Liberty Beautiful. “I think the neat thing about this is that very diverse people come together to do this. It’s like a giant group project.”
Tables and tents lined the soccer fields, where kids earned eco-dollars for participating in an activity, whether it was painting a tree on a poster or answering questions about trees. Emma Beasley, 7, did well in identifying types of tree branches. Her grandfather, Jeff Stone, and David Duke, chief ranger for Liberty, Long and South Bryan County with the Georgia Forestry Commission, were impressed that she identified a sweet-gum tree and a long-leaf pine.
Jean Summers was happy her daughter Terry, 6, chose a spinach seed rather than a flower seed at the planting station. Children were given a small, biodegradable cup containing potting soil. After choosing a seed, each child was directed how to push the seed into the soil and add a little water.
“She likes spinach in her salads. In fact, she likes her vegetables,” Jean Summers said.
Steve Welborn, director of inspections, manned a table that provided kids with eco-blocks. He said the spongy blocks were made of biodegradable material that stuck together when kids dampened their ends. Nearby, the finance department ran a table that educated children about the functions of toilets and sewer systems.
Displays of students’ T-shirt art showed an array of designs about Earth Day and saving the planet. Local band 3rd Class Citizens gave the event a festive flavor with a rocky rhythm.
For those wanting real flavor, fresh burgers were cooked at one concessions tent, while healthy organic snacks were provided at another.
Plastic water bottles hanging on a clothesline noted the waste of plastic material, while a nearby table set up by Midway Baptist Church displayed other uses of plastic bottles. A water bottle converted into a bird feeder hung above the table along with examples of other uses for water bottles.
Larry Logan, assistant director of Liberty County Emergency Management Agency, and Sheri Reddick invited families to sign up for Alert Liberty. Families entered personal information like addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, and then selected the types of alerts they wanted to receive from EMA.
“Right now, it’s used primarily for weather alerts,” said Reddick, explaining that tornado warnings, flash-flood risk or other weather-related alerts would be sent to whoever requests the alerts. “In the future, we plan on using it for police- and fire-department alerts.”
Across the field, Evanne Floyd of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce worked with kids at a sidewalk art display. Chalk images of trash cans and recycle bins looked so real that Sasha Octave, 6, bent down and touched them to see if they were 3-dimensional.
A larger work of art was a Carbon Footprint tree. A large tree trunk was painted onto a huge white blanket. Jasmine Fields painted the soles of children’s shoes with green paint and allowed them to walk over the blanket through the tree’s branches, thus putting “shoe-print leaves” on the tree. The “leaves” produced by Adrian Colon, 13, were considerably larger than some of the younger children.
Fields said the poster would hang at city hall starting Tuesday.
Swida said she was grateful the weather was more cooperative than last year, when high winds knocked down tents and scattered posters and displays across the field. This year, the sun came out just as the event was getting under way. Swida also was pleased that Saturday’s citywide cleanup was a success, despite less-than-favorable weather.

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