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Animals flock to Earth Day celebration at Seven Springs Middle

NEW PORT RICHEY — Andrew Maras enjoys birds — but typically at a distance. So the 14-year-old was taken aback when a scarlet macaw named Ginger started making her way toward him, moving from arm to arm, shoulder to shoulder through a sea of students before planting herself squarely on Andrew's shoulder, pirate style.

"It was really cool," the Seven Springs Middle eighth-grader said Thursday morning, after Ginger moved on to someone else. "I was really surprised."

Inside an adjacent classroom, Matt Parachini, 14, snapped pictures of a couple of playful, caged cats brought in by representatives of Countless Cat Rescue Inc., who shared with students the importance of spaying animals. Others cavorted with Howlistic Therapy dogs, such as Bentley, a 2-year-old Sheltie with an amiable nature, and Harry, a mixed breed that was found tied to a donation bin outside a Publix supermarket.

This was a different kind of meet and greet; the culmination of a week-long Earth Day celebration at Seven Springs Middle School that featured a variety of earth-friendly activities for students and faculty.

"The goal was to get lots of participation," said drama and Lead the Pack teacher Cindy Tehan, who spearheaded the effort with Learn and Serve teacher Dorothy Taylor.

There was a campus nature walk led by science teachers in which students identified 23 different native bird species and got a close-up look at turtles while learning about their natural habitats.

Students signed pledges to be earth-friendly and celebrated the cleanup of the school's Jagwater Pond. Jeannie Hayes, from the Pasco County Extension Service, came to talk with students about water conservation.

Arts classes pitched in, offering a digital nature slide show. There were performances by members of the school chorus and the band, too, that roused students with a crowd pleasing rendition of the Black Eyed Peas' I've Got a Feeling and a medley of patriotic songs.

Drama students got into the mix, putting on a black-light presentation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, a children's book that comes with a grown-up environmental warning about deforestation and pollution and general disregard for the health of the planet.

Six different animal rescue groups also came to school, invited by students in Taylor's and Tehan's service learning classes.

"We wanted to do something to help the animals," said Haley Shinn, 14. "Because when you go out you always see at least one stray animal and everyone has pets."

The overall project was important one for students, said Tehan, who in 1973 helped organize an Earth Day celebration when she was a student at the University of Dayton. "They are the ones who will be inheriting this Earth and if they want it to be there for their children and their grandchildren, then they have to be aware and they need to take care of all of it: the air, the water, the trees, the animals."

Michele Miller can be reached at miller@sptimes.com.

>>fast facts

Earth Day events

Wisconsin's U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D) was the founder of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Some 20 million people participated in the grass roots environmental protest that is credited with prodding passage of the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act. Today millions of people from more than 175 countries participate in celebrating Earth Day.

Events

• Earth Day Eggstravaganza, 9 a.m. (registration from 8 a.m.) Saturday at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa. The Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park will hold an Easter Egg Hunt for area children. Please bring baskets. Parents can take children's photos with the Easter Bunny and other costumed characters. Donation of $5 for children includes admission to park. Adults receive a 33 percent discount on park admission. There will also be a bird walk on Pepper Creek Trail starting at 8 a.m. (meet at 7:45 am at Visitor Center Entrance). Call the park office to register at (352) 628-5343.

• Earth Day Tampa Bay, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the USF Botanical Gardens, 12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa (one block north of the corner of Fowler Avenue and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard). Sponsored by the Tampa Bay Sierra Club and the University of South Florida's Office of Sustainability. This year's theme, Pride of Place, is intended to promote community pride in local environments. More than 50 earth-friendly exhibitors offering products, services and information to help live a greener, healthier lifestyle. This family-friendly day of fun and education will feature children's activities, information on clean energy, home and garden products, arts and crafts, live music and more. Admission and parking are free, but alternative use of transportation is encouraged

• Earth Day at Crews Lake Wilderness Park, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 30 at 16739 Crews Lake Drive, Shady Hills. There will be dozens of activities for all ages including native plant sale, children's museum, Mercury Bounty Program (exchange mercury containing devices for a $5 Walmart gift card); electronics recycling (two TVs per household at no cost, $7 each additional TV); and safe disposal of expired or unused medications. The event is free but there will be a $2 charge for parking. For information, call (727) 856-2917.

Animals flock to Earth Day celebration at Seven Springs Middle 04/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2011 9:44pm]
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