Area students gather for environmental education

Col. Dave Gerber, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander, demonstrates the proper placement of the hand to students before the pledge of allegiance to kick off the Annual Earth Day event.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Josh Harbin)

Col. Dave Gerber, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander, demonstrates the proper placement of the hand to students before the pledge of allegiance to kick off the Annual Earth Day event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Josh Harbin)

Airman 1st Class Marquis Skinner, 14th Communications Squadron, runs a stand at the Earth Day celebration where children can guess the weight of a bale of plastic bottles weighing in at over 600 lbs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Josh Harbin)

Airman 1st Class Marquis Skinner, 14th Communications Squadron, runs a stand at the Earth Day celebration where children can guess the weight of a bale of plastic bottles weighing in at over 600 lbs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Josh Harbin)

Shelby Staten, U.S. Corps of Engineers, shows a group of children different pelts of fur from local animals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Josh Harbin)

Shelby Staten, U.S. Corps of Engineers, shows a group of children different pelts of fur from local animals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Josh Harbin)

COLUMBUS AFB, Miss. -- More than 500 fourth graders from Columbus City, Lowndes County and Columbus AFB home-schools came out to Columbus AFB Tuesday in celebration of Earth Day/Arbor Day.

Seventeen activities were available for the youth from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Freedom Park.
A few base agencies helped with Earth Day including the 14th Civil Engineer Squadron and the Commissary. Many local and state organizations including VFW Post 4272 Weyerhaeuser, Squincher, Triangle Maintenance Service, FiberVision, Paper Traders, Columbus Scrap Materials, Keep Mississippi Beautiful, 4 County Electric Power Association, Golden Triangle Regional Solid Waste Management Authority, Weyerhaeuser, Mississippi School for Math and Science, Holcim, Lowndes County Extension Service, US Corp of Engineers, Ducks Unlimited, MS Soil and Water Conservation, 4 County Electric Power Association, MS Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and MS Forestry Commission provided educational learning stations. In addition, recreational activities such as a recycling relay and ring toss were also planned for the students to take part in. The winners for the events were given imprinted water bottles with an environmental message.

Colonel Dave Gerber, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, provided opening comments for the event. Rick Olsen, Mississippi Forestry Commission, then presented the 14th FTW with the 14th consecutive Tree City Award and the 6th Tree City USA Growth Award.

Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson was the Founder of Earth Day; the idea first took place in 1970 but had evolved over a period of eight years starting in 1962. Earth Day provides knowledge and support so the world will have clean air and water, healthy fish and wildlife and beautiful places to visit forever.

The first Arbor Day took place April 10, 1872, in Nebraska where more than one million trees were planted. On this day, individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. It was the vision of a Nebraska journalist and politician, Julius Sterling Morton. In the years since the first Arbor Day, all 50 states have adopted the day. However, not every state celebrates the event on the same day due to the climate of that local area. President Richard Nixon declared the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. Arbor Day is also celebrated in other countries such as Australia, Japan, Israel, Korea, Yugoslavia, Iceland and India.