No matter the setting, Springfield’s Earth Awareness Fair packs important community message – The State Journal-Register

no-matter-the-setting,-springfield’s-earth-awareness-fair-packs-important-community-message-–-the-state-journal-register

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Two-year-old Damiya Cook’s first trip to the Henson Robinson Zoo in Springfield Saturday came with an important message.In addition to seeing African penguins and bobcats, Cook learned about interactive gardening and earthworms, how monarch butterflies cut a path through Illinois annually and how families can prepare their own yards as pollinator gardens. “I want her to be educated on it,” said Cook’s mother, Britney Gilchrese, who specifically brought her to the zoo for the Earth Awareness Fair Saturday.The free family-friendly event featured more than 30 exhibitors highlighting environmental topics such as recycling, reuse, energy efficiency, alternative energy, climate, native plants and habitats, local and organic foods and water conservation.The city and its Urban Forestry Commission distributed 200 trees to Saturday’s attendees.See also: Penguin building opening at Henson Robinson ZooIt was the first time the Springfield Park District has partnered with the City of Springfield on the event, said Lynn Saputo, director of recreation and marketing for the park district and the interim zoo director. The event is typically held at the Old State Capitol, Saputo said, and with the building being under renovation and with COVID-19, the city needed “a new safe location,” Saputo said.The park district has also held Earth Day events at Erin’s Pavilion and Washington Park, Saputo said.Delaine Terry of Chatham brought her daughter Harper, 5, and son Roscoe, 3, to the zoo not knowing the event was going on Saturday.”This is awesome. We’re excited to be here,” Terry said. “Harper was learning about bobcats and the footprints they leave and Roscoe loves the snakes in the lobby.”Terry said she recycles and has raised garden beds at her home where she grows vegetables like brussels sprouts, green beans, cabbage, pak choi and green onions.”I had actually dumped all my compost from the past couple years into my raised garden bed, so that’s going to be all recycled dirt and it’s going to be nice and healthy,” she said.Nate Larsen, a traveling nurse who moved to Springfield from Utah recently, was visiting the zoo and the fair with his wife, Shallyn, and daughter, Claire, who is one-and-a-half years old.”It’s really neat they’re doing this event, to bring awareness to preservation and conservation, things we feel strongly about,” Nate Larsen said. “We definitely love the outdoors. We love hiking and cycling, camping, fishing. We have to protect what we have. We’re grateful to have it.”See also:  Earth Awareness Fair to be held at Henson Robinson Zoo Saturday”At the park district, we say that it’s earth day every single day,” Saputo said. “Every time we have to pick up a tree from a storm, we’re planting three more. We have recycling systems in place throughout all of our facilities and parks. We have about 1,000 volunteers annually who help us plant and use our shredded trees for mulch.”Erin’s Pavilion, she pointed out, is “a LEED platinum building, from the building materials to the systems they put into place. And pretty much here at the zoo, we recycle everything. If we can’t reuse it, re-invent it, then we are breaking it down and salvaging it and taking it from compost to recycle.”Ann Logue of Sustainable Springfield was helping the Springfield Civic Garden Club give out seed kits as well as seeds in paper art projects from Julie Kriebel’s Eco Paper Arts.Logue said it is vitally important to listen to the message of Earth Day.”We have a very short time line to reduce the carbon in the atmosphere and methane,” Logue said. “It’s almost like triage. We’re at a state where we have to do some very basic things to help reduce the global temperature in our climate. It’s about restoring green infrastructure in the urban areas and it’s about supporting renewable energy, energy that doesn’t put carbon in the atmosphere.”People can do everyday things to help, like using reusable bags or getting in the habit of using bar soap, Logue said.”Everything we do adds up,” she said. “We think we’re one person, but you multiply that by one billion and it’s a huge impact.”Earth Day will be officially marked on Thursday.Contact Steven Spearie: 622-1788, [email protected], twitter.com/@StevenSpearie. 
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