Trees are important natural resources—this is the lesson that a dedicated group of volunteers shared last week with Mississippi youngsters.
Seventeen members of the Earth Team, the volunteer work force of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), read Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax to students at Van Winkle Elementary School in Jackson, Miss. last Friday.
The children’s book promotes the importance of the conservation of natural resources, and it was a good way to connect the Hinds County Earth Team group with youngsters in their community.
The book is about a character named the Once-ler, who is profitting from the harvest of Truffula trees. The Lorax pleads with the Once-ler to conserve the trees, warning that once all are removed, the environment will be in peril. This book, first published in 1971, is a favorite of environmental educators.
This Earth Team effort was coordinated with the National Education Association’s “Read Across America Day,” promoting the reading of The Lorax in classrooms across the U.S. The group read the same book last year.
Volunteers wore The Cat in the Hat-style hats and left each of the 24 classrooms with a copy of the book and gave each student a bookmark. Volunteer Nancy Lau gave the school a DVD of the classic cartoon The Lorax.
This volunteer effort also coincided with the March 2 debut of the movie The Lorax, based on the book, and Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
Earth Team volunteers in Hinds County received state and regional accolades last year for their dedication to environmental education for youngsters.
“We hope that one day, when it’s their turn to make policy and steer our nation, [these children] will be aware of our Nation’s unique—but sensitive—ecosystems,” said Porter, district administrator for the Hinds County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
Mississippi’s Arbor Day is held in February, and Earth Day is in April, making trees a popular subject this time of the year. The SWCD partners with the county’s NRCS employees and Earth Team to hold a tree giveaway in early February.
This year, district employees visited 24 schools, giving trees to nearly 2,000 students to take home and plant. This event was followed by two weeks of educational programs in schools on the importance of trees and how to plant them. It originally started as “Tree Planting Week,” but because of its popularity, Porter and the SWCD extended it to two weeks.
Find out how to become an Earth Team volunteer in your community.
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Check out other conservation-related stories on the USDA blog.