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An early lesson about the earth

(ran PW edition)

Vinny Buscetta said he had Mother Nature as a partner in organizing the fourth annual Pasco County Kids Earth Day celebration _ he booked the activities, but she provided the weather.

"It turned out better than we ever would have thought," Buscetta said. "We had more than 100 kids in the stage shows alone."

But it wasn't only young people who had fun teaching and learning environmentally sound lessons.

Buscetta estimated 400 Pasco students and parents came to Crews Lake Park for the sunny Saturday event designed to teach respect for the environment. Nearly 20 organizations provided exhibits on everything from bugs to bats. Pasco Animal Control and the Pasco Veterinary Clinic gave tips for taking care of domestic animals while the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and Florida Bat Center put on displays about dealing with wild animals.

Eight volunteers from BFI came out to stress the importance of recycling. Team leader Ellen Chieco summed up the spirit that motivated them.

"Kids need to know about the environment because it's going to be their world, and they need to start young to learn how to take care of it," she said.

An arborist offered a tree-climbing demonstration, and the Sheriff's Office donated two recycled bikes which had been refurbished at Safety Town to be given away in a drawing.

The 4-H County Council and Parks and Recreation department also treated students to ecologically based crafts, such as a station where kids could paint a miniature flower pot then use it to plant seeds and a station where they could create bird-inspired light catchers for a window.

Live music, a puppet show and burgers and franks rounded out the picnic-for-a-purpose, which was held against the backdrop of Crews Lake's wetland area.

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