Earth Day Expo draws crowd

Community members young and old came to the Earth Day Expo 2019.

The Earth was the star of the show at the Earth Day Expo 2019.

Visitors to the Gerald Welch Health Education Building today could walk among booths manned by area companies and organizations and learn about the environment.

“I think it’s tremendous, I love this activity,” Chris Konal, who was at Eden’s Garden Club’s booth, said.

“It’s good to raise awareness, especially that they’re attracting children so anything that will help the kids take care of the environment, think of bugs and bees as useful instead of swatting them away. Getting them engaged,” she said.

Many of visitors were children and many of the tables had little crafts for little hands to do and take home.

Among those stopping by was four-year-old Stephen Rusnak.  He had a pipe cleaner caterpillar wrapped around one of his fingers and was browsing the tables with his mother, Renee Collier-Rusnak.

He had just finished learning at a table dedicated to bus.

“I petted some and holded some,” he giggled.

They were caterpillars of course.

Butterflies made by local classrooms out of recycled materials were displayed along one wall, with a small bag attached to each table that held a butterfly.  Visitors were given tickets to drop into the bag of their favorite.

The display was part of the River Raisin Institute’s Climate Literacy Program.

“Each year we pick a different species that we need to be conscious of how our actions as humans affect the environment,” Sharon Venier, who was watching over the butterflies, said.

This year they chose butterflies to  talk about them as pollinators and how they’re an indicator species for climate change, she said.

“If we didn’t have butterflies to pollinate the flowers and the vegetables, basically humans would lose 3 out of 4 bites of food,” she said.

The Institute made a packet to give to local schools for teachers to talk to students about.

They also give out chicken wire frames for the butterflies

“The students decorate the frame however they want, as they learn about how to be good environmental stewards, Venier said.

Maureen Wickenheiser teaches at one of the schools who decorated a butterfly.

She said students from preschool to eighth grade worked on it.

“We had a bunch of fabric that was in a big box in our church basement, so we used that,” she said.

Among the groups lining the gym were the Math and Science Society (MASS), student government, the River Raisin Institute, and the Monroe County Library System.