Hands-on Earth Day activities made for families

One man’s trash is another man’s recycling project, or at least it will be at Saturday’s Earth Day celebration in downtown Marietta.

For the 15th year, the annual event will offer craft sessions, contests, tutorials and more on the Armory Square from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As always, the day will provide a variety of fun ways for families to get educated about environmental issues, said Connie Grimes, one of the event coordinators.

“We’re going to have some hands-on projects…We’ve got a recycling craft they can do, and there are tote bags they can decorate,” she said.

Started in 1999 as a way to spread environmental awareness, the Earth Day celebration in Marietta has long been a popular family event. Between 100 and 400 people typically attend, depending on weather, said Grimes.

This year’s celebration will feature some favorite longtime events, such as two art contests-one where entrants use the contents of their garbage to create a work of art and another where they use sweet gum balls, said Grimes.

Also a continuing tradition, attendees will be given a passport to have stamped at various tables and displays around the event.

“If they complete a passport, we have a gift for them,” added Grimes.

This year’s event will feature some returning vendors, such as Harrison Construction, who display their “Simply Green” display house -a model home with many environmentally conscious features.

Also on hand will be the Southeastern Ohio Joint Solid Waste Management, North Country Trail Association, Muskingum River Parkway and Rural Action.

Rural Action, a Plains-based group, will be giving out information about its many programs and how to get involved, said Bob Fedyski, local/ institutional food specialist for the group’s sustainable agriculture program.

“We’re working on farm to school programs to get local foods in the public schools,” explained Fedyski of one of the many initiatives the group has undertaken.

A first for this year’s celebration will be the involvement of the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center.

The group rehabilitates injured and orphaned birds of prey with the end goal of releasing the rehabilitated bird back into the wild. This is not always possible and some birds cared for by the center are brought to events for educational purposes, explained Mike Book, the center’s founder and director.

“These birds make really, really good ambassadors,” said Book.

The birds are an educational tool for teaching about nature, the food chain, and the importance that man plays in that process, he added.

Though which birds travel to Marietta will be partially dependent on their behavior the day of the event, Book said he hopes to bring an owl, a hawk and a turkey vulture for the event.

Another fun project planned for Saturday’s celebration will give people the chance to build a native bee display, said Grimes.

“You take a piece of wood and drill a hole in it and native bees will come to that wood. Kids will be able to drill that wood and take it and put it in their yard,” she said.

Saturday’s event is free and open to the public, added Grimes.