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Earth Savers met at the park to discuss the pros and cons of using paper vs plastic bags to bring home shopping items. We then discussed how much better it is for the Earth to reusable cloth bags. Each participant brought their own canvas bag(s) and we colored them with regular crayons. Participants were given instructions on how to make their designs permanent by ironing them with parchment paper when they returned home. We also signed "pledge to pack" forms, agreeing to bring our own bags with us to the store.
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During the week of May 13, Earth Savers invited our members to once again try to go without electricity and/or other forms of energy for one day. We met on May 22 and discussed our experiences. This was our second energy-free week and many members found it more difficult to participate this time around because of our busy schedules this spring. Some people were able to commit to parts of the day instead of the whole day and others made the project an energy awareness week, discussing differences that can be made on a daily basis to decrease energy dependence. Those that were not able to participate in any capacity discussed their difficulties and got suggestions from other members on how to make it happen next time. Again, it was an eye-opening experience to really take stock of our dependence on energy in our daily lives.
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We watched a movie to learn about native turtles, why many are endangered and what their habitat requirements are. We also had a visit from a biologist who is an expert on turtles and he brought turtles for us to see! This project taught us about environmental awareness and tied into our lessons on habitats.
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Our group used the Roots & Shoots EcoTeam curriculum as part of our study on pollution. The group made and tested cleansers made from oil soap, baking soda, vinegar and salt. The cleansers were put in clearly labeled recycled containers and delivered with recipes, so families could make more on their own. This is the third year the group has done this project.
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Our participation was requested at the annual Forest Grove Children's Fair. This event was held on May 12th, at Pacific University. The primary focus of the fair is a celebration of children and a showcase of organizations that serve children. Even though the age focus is younger than our group, we had a wonderful time! We led a parade through town with our Giant Peace Dove, then ran a booth, sharing the Roots & Shoots program and teaching the folding of "Peace Cranes" & other origami projects. This has become a yearly event for us. Great outreach and great fun!
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In October, Tom McCall Roots & Shoots sponsored one of our twice yearly community 'clean ups' of our McCall Forest, a one acre forested area connected to our school. This was a collaborative event with a statewide environmental volunteer program (SOLV) and over 50 community members participated! It was a beautiful fall day that was spent removing invasive plants, weeding, mulching, planting native trees and plants, developing trails, installing bat house and maintaining bird and squirrel feeders. A major focus was expanding our butterfly wildflower garden, which is now planted with milkweed (an absolutely necessary plant in the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly). We have recently received a small grant to help establish a "Monarch" station, as part of the effort to re-establish this butterfly into our area again. It was an extremely successful day that really enhanced our forest 'outdoor classroom'!
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This is the first year that we participated in this service-learning project sponsored by SOLV. We actually took a day out of school to help restore an overgrown stream area and prepare it for re-planting of native plants. It was a gorgeous Spring day. First, we were taught about the importance of native plants and the destruction of habitat caused by invasive species. We then went at it, removing invasive Himalayan Blackberry and English Ivy. We surprised ourselves at how much could be removed by a group of 22! It felt great to be out there making a difference.
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The children in Mrs Toscano's class studied skin color and designed their own peace symbols. They mixed paints to simulate their own skin color.
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Instead of exchanging gifts for the winter holidays, the children and teachers in all three classes collected items to donate to the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA) in Stratham NH. Mrs McFarlin delivered piles of times, including blankets, towels, food, treats, toys, etc. for the animals cared for by the shelter. (The group also made a collection and donations in May 2006.)
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We did a study of owls. One of our moms found a dead barred owl beside the road. She brought it in for the kids to examine up close. At the next meeting we did an owl pellet dissection. We studied which owls are native to Maine and which Owls live in our area of Maine. We planned a project to build owl houses. The kids read "Owl in the Family" and "There is an Owl in the Shower" which led to a discussion of the needs of humans vs. the needs of animals. Some of the kids saw live owls at the Gray Wild Animal Park. All of the kids saw the owls on exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science and tried the the flight pattern exhibit.

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