Hug the Earth Festival upcoming

COVINGTON — The Miami County Park District will hold its annual Hug the Earth School Festival with the Banana Slug String Band May 8-12 and the Hug the Earth Family Festival from noon to 5 p.m. May 12. The festival is the culmination of the Hug the Earth school program. This is the 22nd year for the festival and the fifth year that it will be held at Stillwater Prairie Reserve, north of Covington.

During the festival, more than 3,000 Miami County students grades kindergarten through fifth will perform with the Banana Slug String Band and engage in outdoor educational activities.

“One of the Miami County Park District’s goals is to promote environmental awareness and stewardship of our natural resources,” says Cinda Hanbuch-Pinkerton, Education director for the Miami County Park District.

In keeping with this mission, the park district has developed the Hug the Earth school program.

“This four-part program is incorporated to enhance the school’s curriculum,” said Hanbuch-Pinkerton. It integrates outdoor explorations with art, music and innovative science activities and takes place over the school year in the school classroom, land labs and in the Miami County Park District parks.

“The festival is a showcase of what they’ve learned,” adds Hanbuch-Pinkerton.

Students grades four through five, will participate in the Ropes, Rocks & Treetops — High Adventure Initiative. They will have the opportunity to test their climbing skills at the rock wall and tree climbing station. They will also experience outdoor adventure at the zip line and high ropes course station.

Sponsors include The Troy Foundation, Emerson Climate Technologies, Kerber Sheet Metal, Park District VIPs, Troy Moose Lodge 2695Covington VFW Post 4235, The Caroline, Chipotle-Troy, Beppo Uno, El Sombrero and Skyline Chili.

Other highlights of the festival include performances with the Banana Slug String Band, educational animal presentations, Gem Stone Screening and Earthball games.

The Hug the Earth School Program was developed to address the need for a new approach to engage students in science, while helping them prepare for standardized tests. It incorporates hands-on activities, music and art. The experience is taught by Park District Naturalists and takes place over the school year in the classroom and outdoors in Your parks. The final phase of the program is the week long Hug the Earth Festival held at Stillwater Prairie Reserve.