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Eco Day

Mifflin County students learn ecology

Sentinel photo by TYLER RUPERT
Approximately 500 fifth grade students from the Mifflin County School District systematically peruse the Eco Day stations at Rec Park park Thursday. Mifflin County High School ecology teacher Cara Huerbin trained her high school students in multiple ecology disciplines.

LEWISTOWN– On Thursday, fifth grade students from the Mifflin County School District gathered at Rec Park to learn about ecology from Mifflin County High School (MCHS) students. This year is the fifth year that the school district held the event.

MCSD teacher and event coordinator, Rebecca Miller said, “This event is sending students full circle. Previous grade five students are now the ones that are excited to run the stations now that they are in high school and have been trained to teach the youngsters.”

Cara Huerbin, ecology teacher at the MCHS, prepared these high school students to be ready to train the grade 5 students at each station. Huerbin said, “We have been working to prepare for this for the last three weeks. A lot of work went into preparing for this event and it was a community effort with sponsors partnering with us.” She continued, “I put a lot of focus on the students being prepared to teach the fifth graders.”

Nate King, biology teacher and science coordinator for MCHS, as well as Seth Hartman, survival science teacher, supported the youth as they learned and prepared the food for lunch over a grill.

Each group of students were assigned a teacher and a MCHS student guide. The fifth graders traveled between stations and spent about 18 minutes at each station.

Some of the stations were split into two part lessons.

One of the stations was the watershed station, teaching students about an area of land where all of the water that drains off of it goes into the same place such as a river, stream or lake.

Students located at another station, with the support of the Mifflin County Conservation District, spent time educating the kids on macroinvertebrates.

This class of organisms serve several important functions within the aquatic environment such as scavenging dead or decaying bacteria, plants, and animals, which in part helps recycle nutrients back into the system when they are then eaten by fish, birds, amphibians or reptiles.

Trout Unlimited partnered with the program to instruct the fifth grade students about fly fishing with the help of Keagan Scyoc.

The students learned about the fly rod, fly line, fly reel, leader and tippet where flies are tied on. Scyoc also spearheaded an effort to laser cut and engrave wooden trout keychains for each student that visited the station.

Wray’s Landscaping donated rocks for the PA Rocks painting station. Lowe’s donated seeds and soil for fifth graders to plant in cups and take home. The students also learned proper planting techniques.

They learned the importance of depth, preventing root cramping, rock avoidance and how to avoid root “dry-out” from air pockets.

The students also visited stations that taught them about animal tracks. MCHS students created hundreds of plaster cast animal tracks for the fifth grade students to identify and paint.

Each fifth grader had the opportunity to build a mock beaver dam on the sidewalk that imitated a waterway after learning about food webs and ecosystems.

Most students said their favorite part of the event was the 18 minutes of playground time they were allotted.

One fifth grade student, Evan Hook, said his favorite station included predators and skulls. At this station, students learned how to identify whether a skull belonged to a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore by skull and tooth design.

Another station at Eco Day explained how to identify butterflies and learn about the life cycle and migration patterns as well as bees, other pollinators and bee keeping.

Toward the end of the station cycle students learned about the sun, photosynthesis and the positive and negative effects of UV rays.

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