ADDISON — This past week, one local school and its students and staff continued a tradition of honoring Earth Day in a very special way.
Cindy Wolfe, teacher and Earth Day coordinator at Addaville Elementary School, said students at Addaville Elementary observed Earth Day this year through a variety of events, including the planting of a flower garden next to the school’s playground; however, more importantly, the students also helped protect 12-15 acres of rainforest — something the students and staff there have done each year for the past 20 years.
Each year, the students at Addaville participate in the “Big Gift to the Earth” project and raise funding to help protect threatened habitats and conserve endangered species in central and south America and other parts of the world. It was a project that began after Wolfe and another Addaville Elementary teacher found information on the U.S.-based non-profit organization known as “Earth’s Birthday Project.”
“Years ago, I became aware of the Earth’s Big Gift project through the typical advertising that teachers receive in the mail or online. I was teaching first grade at the time,” Wolfe said. “The focus was rainforest habitat and we were doing a unit on rainforests. Mrs. Carpenter, our other first grade teacher, and I decided to use materials from the Earth’s Birthday website. I got permission to run the project and it has continued since then.”
According to Wolfe, in the 20 years since the project began at Addaville, students there have protected roughly 12-15 acres each year at a rate of approximately $55 per acre. So, Addaville has raised approximately $16,500 over the years for the project.
Wolfe further reported that, in addition to protecting rainforest land, the Earth’s Birthday Project also helps promote other areas of conservation.
“We have protected regions of rainforest land around the world, major rivers, as well as specific projects like parts of the oceans where leatherback turtles live,” Wolfe said. “One year, the focus was on plants and animals on the endangered list.”
The school’s administration and other teachers at Addaville have also been supportive of the project each year, according to Wolfe, as the students there not only get the opportunity to help save rainforest land and endangered species, but also get the chance to learn, hands-on, about conservation and the life cycle through various projects, including the flower garden project this year.
“We have been fortunate that the building administration has supported the project each year by providing the funding for each classroom to purchase such hands-on materials as farms, bessbugs, painted lady caterpillars, lunar moths, praying mantis, horn worms, and the sunflower challenge, so that children may watch the life cycle process first-hand,” she said. “Each purchase also supplies money to fund the Earth’s Birthday Project, so we are very careful to avoid other companies whose profits do not support the Earth’s Birthday Project. AEP Gavin has also supported the project in the past by purchasing trees and shrubbery to plant around the school campus. Gallia Soil and Water has put on presentations and been supportive as well.”
Wolfe further encouraged anyone who may be interested in the Big Gift to the Earth project, or in making a difference through the conservation of the world’s rainforest habitats, to visit earthsbirthday.org for more information.
“I feel it is important for the students to understand that they can not only make a difference in the animal/plant habitat around them, but can also make a major difference around the world,” Wolfe said. “The teachers here try to teach students that environmental issues around the world affect all of us. Our science standards for the last quarter are life science-related and participating in the Earth’s Birthday project allows us to relate those standards to a ‘real life’ experience. It also pleases me when students who have long since attended Addaville Elementary express their appreciation for the events surrounding Earth Day when they were here.”
For more information on Addaville Elementary and their Earth Day projects, call (740) 367-7283.