TROY — The gym at Concord Elementary was abuzz with nature knowledge on Thursday, as students participated in the Miami County Parks District’s new program, “Habitat Heroes: Hug the Pollinators.”
The launch, conducted in four installments across two days, engages students grades K-5 on the importance of protecting pollinator habitats in the state of Ohio.
“The overall goal of the program is to raise awareness in our communities about how everyone in their own neighborhoods can help protect the pollinators and the habitats that help them to survive,” said Cinda Hambuch-Pinkerton, director of education for the Miami County Parks District.
“Right now, we’re having many issues with bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. One out of every three bites of food we eat is due to pollinators, and with their populations in decline, our food sources could be in trouble. What we’re trying to do is educate the communities on what pollinators need.”
Each installment opens with an introduction to pollinators using a hand-painted mural and an educational learning experience led by a park naturalist. Students are then split into groups to conduct hands-on activities that illustrate how pollinators operate in nature, before coming back together to conclude with an interactive review game.
Concord Elementary is the first school in the Miami County area to join the program. Throughout the 2018-19 school year, Concord students will continue pollinator education through exploration field trips at local parks, classroom academic activities, literary and creative arts lessons to encourage retention of key concepts, visits to library and park site “storybook trails,” and plantings of pollinator habitats at both school and city properties.
The program will culminate at the Hug the Earth Festival this spring, with a performing arts experience featuring the Banana Slug String Band.
“We intend to choose one school every year in different districts to do this program with,” Hambuch-Pinkerton said. “We hope to educate all of Miami County with this. We are so grateful to Concord Elementary for agreeing to be our pilot school. We hope it’s going to make a big impact in making the community healthier.”
The Habitat Heroes project is funded in part by an Ohio Environmental Education Fund grant of nearly $50,000 from the Ohio EPA, as well as a grant of $25,000 from the Neils A. & Ruth Lundgard Foundation.
For more information on park programs, visit www.miamicountyparks.com.