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Earth, Arbor Day celebration

Students from Caledonia Elementary School listen as Kyle Van Why, left, United States Department of Agriculture wildlife services, explains methods he uses to help people control wildlife on their property. Fourth graders from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

Students from Caledonia Elementary School listen as Kyle Van Why, left, United States Department of Agriculture wildlife services, explains methods he uses to help people control wildlife on their property. Fourth graders from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

John DeFillipo, right, from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, shows fourth graders from New Hope Elementary School a baby alligator, which lives natively in Mississippi. Students from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

John DeFillipo, right, from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, shows fourth graders from New Hope Elementary School a baby alligator, which lives natively in Mississippi. Students from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

Kim White, right, and Cheyenne Rhodes, from New Hope Elementary School, take a break from the numerous activity centers to enjoy the Spring day and watch as various Columbus Air Force Base training aircraft fly overhead. Fourth graders from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

Kim White, right, and Cheyenne Rhodes, from New Hope Elementary School, take a break from the numerous activity centers to enjoy the Spring day and watch as various Columbus Air Force Base training aircraft fly overhead. Fourth graders from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

John DeFillipo, left, from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, shows fourth graders from New Hope Elementary School a baby alligator, which lives natively in Mississippi. Students from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

John DeFillipo, left, from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, shows fourth graders from New Hope Elementary School a baby alligator, which lives natively in Mississippi. Students from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

John David Burns, left, from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality recycling division, shows fourth graders from New Hope Elementary School a pencil made from recycled U.S. currency, as well as other pencils made from blue jeans and cardboard boxes. Students from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

John David Burns, left, from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality recycling division, shows fourth graders from New Hope Elementary School a pencil made from recycled U.S. currency, as well as other pencils made from blue jeans and cardboard boxes. Students from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

Deidre Bowers, right, applies an Earth Day temporary tattoo to the face of fourth-grader Effie Morrison, New Hope Elementary School student Students from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

Deidre Bowers, right, applies an Earth Day temporary tattoo to the face of fourth-grader Effie Morrison, New Hope Elementary School student Students from Lowndes County Schools visited Columbus Air Force Base April 13 as part of an annual Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

Tina Hilberg packs a customer’s grocery items in reusable cloth bags. The Columbus Air Force Base Commissary handed out 500 environmentally-friendly bags as part of their Earth Day celebration. The bags were donated by the base recycling center. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

Tina Hilberg packs a customer’s grocery items in reusable cloth bags. The Columbus Air Force Base Commissary handed out 500 environmentally-friendly bags as part of their Earth Day celebration. The bags were donated by the base recycling center. (Photo by Senior Airman John Parie)

COLUMBUS AFB, Miss. -- On Friday, Columbus AFB celebrated the annual Earth Day/Arbor Day Education Fair. This event, which took place all day at Freedom Park, was for fourth grade students from the Lowndes County Schools and all Columbus AFB home-schooled children. Children participated in a variety of educational and recreational activities. Many local and state organizations including Keep Mississippi Beautiful, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Forestry Commission, Fish and Wildlife, USDA, and Golden Triangle Regional Landfill provided educational learning stations. Students rotated through the stations and received a full spectrum of learning about the environment. These stations were designed to promote environmental stewardship and raise awareness through educational activities.

During opening remarks for the Earth Day celebration, Mr. Rick Olsen of the Mississippi Forestry Commission presented Columbus AFB with its 14th consecutive Tree City USA and 5th Tree City Growth Awards. This achievement prompted Colonel Dave Gerber, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander, to establish April 13, 2007 as Arbor Day at Columbus AFB, a holiday normally celebrated the second Friday of February.

Many organizations on base helped in preparing for the event that hosted over 400 children. Ms. Renee Howell, head organizer of this year's event, was quick to praise their efforts in contributing to the education fair's success. "We could not do this without our sponsors," she said. She went on to comment on the importance of the local community's sponsorship of the event.

Ms. Howell said the children spent time, "learning about our environment, learning how to recycle, but also having a lot of fun." The smiling children attentively huddled around each environmental station were telling about the success of this year's event.