The Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) welcomed horned owls, millipedes and hundreds of environmentally-conscious community members for Saturday’s “Keep it Wild” Earth Day celebration. The four-hour event featured live music, sustainably sourced meal options and a range of hands-on educational programs — all aimed at promoting environmental awareness and bridging the gap between community members and nature.
According to BFEC Post-Baccalaureate Fellow Emma Renee Coffman ’22, over 730 individuals attended the free program, which featured eco-friendly activities such as “seed bomb” making and nature sketching. With the assistance of over 20 Kenyon and Knox County organizations, the event aimed to increase respect for local wildlife by introducing participants to the plants and animals protected by the BFEC. “We wanted to give people a chance to meet some of the wildlife that we work hard to conserve — to me, that’s one of the most accessible ways for people to come face-to-face with nature,” Coffman wrote in an email to the Collegian.
In the BFEC resource center, adventurous attendees could meet a multitude of creatures, including turkey vultures from the Ohio Bird Sanctuary and possums from Ohio Nature Education. The United Titanium Bug Zoo encouraged participants to face their negative perceptions of bugs by holding insects such as hissing cockroaches and millipedes. “The folks who brought them were so knowledgeable and passionate that it was hard not to get excited about them. It’s amazing what education can do to dispel all kinds of fears about even the most misunderstood animals,” Coffman wrote.
Outside, performances from musical groups such as the Kenyon Pep Band and the Twin Oak Elementary Youth Choir provided an energetic musical backdrop as families traveled from booth to booth. Under volunteer guidance, participants completed crafts to support the wildlife in their own backyards such as wooden birdhouses and plantable pellets of clay and mud packed with seeds from native fauna, also known as “seed bombs.” Children raced through outdoor mazes and had their faces painted with colorful likenesses of flowers, bees and frogs.
Beyond the featured activities, the festival offered the opportunity to support several small businesses — while attendees roamed, they could snack on sustainably sourced burgers from Chef Meagan’s Food Truck and Catering or sample fresh juice from the Green Vibes Juice Truck. Plant vendors such as Natives in Harmony were stationed throughout the festival, offering a range of succulents, flowers and native Ohio plants to those looking to introduce nature into their homes.With hundreds of participants and dozens of volunteers, BFEC Manager Noelle Jordan emphasized that the event’s massive turnout would not have been possible without extensive help from the Knox County community. According to Jordan, the widespread support shown by organizations and sponsors demonstrated impressive local commitment to the environment and to the BFEC itself. “This is where our incredible community really shines. The organizations and businesses that show up to support the BFEC during our big events reveal a community that is committed to service,” Jordan wrote in an email to the Collegian.
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