BEMUS POINT – Area fifth- graders are experiencing the outdoors this week.
The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s 4-H Program began the first day of the 48th Annual Conservation Field Days event on Wednesday at the Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Bemus Point. The event will continue today.
Over 800 Chautauqua County fifth-grade students will be in attendance over the course of the two-day event, from participating schools, including: Southwestern, Sherman, Brocton, Pine Valley, Bemus Point, Westfield, Chautauqua Lake, Clymer, Forestville, Jefferson, Panama, Washington, Ripley, Sinclairville and Persell.
According to Emily Kidd, event director and 4-H issue leader, there were 34 stations this year -an unusually large amount.
“Each station is run by volunteers that teach the students some aspect of conservation,” Kidd said.”It’s amazing to see the reaction of kids who are witnessing things for the first time.”
At the Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District station, Dave Wilson spoke to students about the importance of preserving farmland through conservation techniques.
To make his point, Wilson took an apple and began cutting slices off to represent how much of the earth’s land is usable for farming. His first cut was 75 percent of the apple, to represent the amount of land covered by water. He cut off more pieces of the apple to represent the North and South Poles, mountainous regions, deserts and urban landscapes full of concrete and blacktop, until only a sliver of the apple remained.
“This is why we have to take care to preserve our farmland,” he said.
According to Wilson, it takes roughly 1,000 years for one inch of topsoil to be created naturally.
Wilson used a display that he created nearly 30 years ago, complete with running water and to-scale models of tractors, farm animals, buildings, streams and soil, to explain conservation techniques for farms.
“We go out and help farmers make important decisions about how to better themselves,” Wilson said. “The two most important natural resources are soil and water.”
Wilson has been participating in the Conservation Field Days events for nearly 30 years.
Jamie Haight, from the Chautauqua County Health Department, had a station that was focused on various insects.
Near the station, Haight had set up a mosquito trap, which included a combination of dry ice, light and a hanging water bottle.
“Mosquitos are most attracted to carbon dioxide – breathing – and body heat,” Haight said.
Haight also spoke about how to spot bed bugs and how to remove multiple kinds of ticks after they attach.
The station included various vials of preserved insects which Haight displayed and explained to students.
Volunteer participants at the event included: Allegany State Park, NYS DEC Division of Law Enforcement, Maple Association, Kids on the Fly, Chautauqua County CCE, Boy Scouts, SUNY Fredonia Department of Science, Jamestown Audubon Society, NYS Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitation, National Wild Turkey Foundation, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, National Trappers Association, Chautauqua County Health Department, Chautauqua County Beekeepers Association, Chautauqua County 4-H, Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails, Chautauqua Lake Association, SAREP Youth Fly Fishing Program, Pioneer Forestry, USDA Forest Service, Bluebird Lady, Country Kids on the Fly, Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association, NYS Department of Public Service, NYS DEC Forest Rangers, Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District and NYS DEC Randolph Fish Hatchery.
The Conservation Field Days event is just one of many programs available through the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s 4-H Program. Activities and events are designed to provide children with quality youth development opportunities that otherwise may not be available or accessible. Cornell Cooperative Extension development programs create a supportive learning environment in which diverse youth and adults reach their fullest potential as capable, competent and caring citizens.