Students learn about native arts and crafts from Delroy “Ital” Anthony at the Earth Day Fair.
Peals of laughter could be heard above the DJ music emanating from the V.I. National Park ball field on Friday morning, April 20, as St. John students from across the island celebrated Earth Day at a fair hosted by Friends of V.I. National Park.
Julius E. Sprauve School students began the day with a Litter Stomp from their Cruz Bay campus to the VINP field. Chanting about the importance of recycling and reusing, JESS students joined with students from Guy Benjamin School, Gifft Hill School, Head Start and Calvary Baptist School and led the way to the field to officially open the fair.
From original theatrical plays to electrical safety, students both learned and demonstrated their knowledge about all facets of the environment. The face painting table was full all morning with students getting images of Earths and flowers painted on their little cheeks and hands.
Delroy “Ital” Anthony’s table full of jewelry and crafts wrought from native seeds and local plants was another popular stop at the fair.
Students are already looking forward to this summer’s Eco Camps at the V.I. Environmental Resource Station, thanks to officials who shared information about the camps and showed the effects of soil erosion with a watershed demonstration. VIERS officials also had a solar-powered table top fan and a preserved lionfish specimen for students to see as well.
Maho Bay Arts Center crafts people were on hand with their loom, weaving recycled sheets into beautiful, multicolored rugs. VINP Education Specialist Laurel Brannick, who is also a member of the V.I. Audubon Society, gave students an up-close look at local bugs.
“Whenever I go on hikes with kids they are always stomping on bugs and killing bugs,” said Brannick. “So I wanted to show them how some of these bugs are very useful and they don’t need to kill them.”
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. John members shared rubber stamps with eco-friendly sayings, which students used to make bookmarks.
University of the Virgin Islands’ Marine and Environmental Science Masters program students asked students to match pieces of coral with underwater images of live coral. Nearby UVI’s Extension Services officials shared information about composting and native trees.
Gifft Hill School seniors performed a dramatic original production about the negative effects of sunscreen on coral reefs, which can contribute to bleaching episodes. Students and leaders of the school’s Education and Resiliency Through Horticulture program shared thyme and tomato seeds which students planted in small plastic containers and took home.
St. John Community Foundation executive director Celia Kalousek explained the importance of recycling aluminum cans while having students test their skills at tossing the cans into a recycling container.
Department of Planning and Natural Resources officials handed out water bottles and activity booklets complete with crayons and stickers. V.I. Waste Management Authority asked students to play a memory game about run-off and non-point source pollution.
Water and Power Authority electricians hosted a popular demonstration about the dangers of electricity with a model live electric line. V.I. Energy Office officials were on hand with solar-powered model cars zooming across their table.
“Kids really like to see the wheels spinning just from the sunlight,” said VIEO spokesperson Don Buchanan. “And we’re throwing in a little information about climate change too.”
Students also enjoyed a VINP Archaeology dig in the nearby tot lot sand area. Students enjoyed excavating items which VINP Archaeology staff buried earlier in the morning.
Before leaving the fair, students took home reusable shopping bags from Starfish Market and FirstBank as well as Earth Day trivia information. Between all the fun tables and munching on fresh fruit snacks and chocolate chip cookies, students also took home some valuable lessons.
“This morning has been great,” said Friends of VINP executive director Joe Kessler. “This is a great opportunity to make strong connections between the kids and the environment. These kids are going to be the future stewards of the environment, and the oceans and Mother Earth.”