Keesler encourages students to "go green"

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) -   Keesler Air Force base hosted an Earth & Arbor Day celebration on Wednesday.

South Mississippi students who visited the base learned all about the importance of "going green." The kids learned about saving energy, respecting wildlife and conserving natural resources.

"They have color bands on their legs to let us know whether they're boys or girls. So, what we're doing is we're banding you guys so we know a little about you," said a representative from the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge.

Protecting wildlife like the Mississippi sandhill crane was among the Earth Day awareness lessons.

Petting a baby alligator also proved a popular "hands on" attraction, along with baby snakes and a wounded turtle.

"When they're able to touch them, they're able to recognize that not everything out there you have to kill immediately when you see it. You can enjoy it, without harming it," said Kathy Shelton, with the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

Other exhibits encourage protecting natural resources.

"This is a rainy day, I mean storming like it did two weeks ago. What do you think happens when it storms?" asked a representative from the Land Trust of the Mississippi Coastal Plain.

She was spraying a food coloring liquid on a model of land to demonstrate how fertilizers and other chemicals wind up in the Gulf of Mexico.

The visiting youngsters have been hearing about "recycling" since they were born.  Still, the longtime practice still benefits the environment.

"It's harder and harder to get a landfill approved. And by recycling, we cut down on the volume that goes into these landfills," said Nick Ladner with Advanced Disposal Services.

"I hope they learn that green is really a lot bigger than they thought. It's about all kinds of things. I hope they get a big exposure to everything that green encompasses," said Marcella Whitfield, who helped organize the event at Keesler.

Col. Christopher Valle joined students in planting an Arbor Day oak tree in the park space near the marina.

He encouraged his young visitors to do their part to preserve the earth.

"When you leave here, I want you to remember to go remind your parents what a difference you can make by doing simple, little things," he said.

As a part of Wednesday's Earth & Arbor Day activities, Keesler Air Force Base was awarded a Tree City USA banner from the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

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