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Our group gathered for our kick-off meeting and watched the DVD of Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees. Then we broke into two groups and brainstormed some great ideas for the upcoming year.
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Our group helped our local animal rescue organization by stuffing envelopes with their annual fundraising brochure. We watched some of BBC's Planet Earth while stuffing the envelopes.
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Our group met at a newly established open space park and cut invasive purple thistle that threatens to take over parts of the park. Since the local wildlife population such as elk and mule deer cannot eat the thistle, we wanted to protect the habitat by ridding one area of this very large park of the weed. We used pruning tools to cut the thistle and then placed them in bags to keep the seeds from spreading. We placed the bags alongside the service road for the park maintenance people to collect.
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Our group visited Peaceful Prairie, a rescue facility for farm animals. We learned about the horrors of factory farming and animal abuse and met a variety of charming and damaged animals including geese, ducks, laying hens, broiler chickens, pigs, goats, cows and turkeys. Many of our group are varying degrees of vegetarian. Meat is a huge drain on our environment as it produces methane, water, soil and air pollution and impacts, for example: rainforests in South America as well as the Gulf of Mexico. We donated $100 from our group account and the adults who attended also made donations to help with the cost of running the facility.
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Our most common activity is interpreting in the zoo's Valley Children's Zoo. We man various stations around the CZ with the goal of connecting with the zoo's youngest visitors in an interactive way. Teaching young children that we share the world with plants and animals passes these values on to the next generation, to create new young conservationists who love animals! Current animals that we teach about are alligators, lemurs, bats and goats. Between January and June 2007, we spent a total of 1196 hours teaching and interpreting in the Children's Zoo!
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My daughter age nine and myself have participated in the Rivers Alive clean-up for the past five years. Each year we hope to be recognized for our efforts. We were extremely motivated by Wangari Maathai's story of the hummingbird. Our goal was to win one of the prizes awarded that day. We scouted the river banks in our kayak the night before and flagged several dumps along banks of the Chattahooche River. Next morning we set to work to see how much of it we could retrieve in four hours. Knowing what tools to pack was important, we could not have done it ourselves without the garden cart/ pruners/maddock etc. We uncovered a rusting hot water heater (this won the prize for most unusual) then we dug out three 55 gallon steel drums. All totaled between the two of us we brought in 530lbs of trash. We also won the award for most trash brought in that day! A group of 100 students only brought in 250lb! We learned with hard work and determination your wildest dreams can come true. Poison ivy was a small price to pay to learn this lesson. Our picture was taken with the mayor of Sandy Springs and we hope our article is accepted in the local newspaper.
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We ordered the tags from Monarch Watch and each family took some tags and tagged the monarchs individually and we also got together as a group and did the tagging. The purpose of this is for researchers at the University of Kansas to track the migration of the monarch Butterflies on their way to Mexico. The kids really enjoyed gently handling the butterflies as well as catching them. We learned the life cycle of these butterflies as well as that it is the fourth generation of these butterflies that migrate to Mexico. We talked about why it is important to have gardens available for these butterflies so that they have "food" to eat on their journey.
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We joined up with Spring Hill Roots & Shoots, an NCCC Americorps team and the Buddhist environmental group Earth Sangha to help remove invasive species from the Marie Butler Reserve park. We also did other habitat restoration tasks such as mulching and terracing with logs to prevent erosion. Our main goals were to remove various species of plants and trees that were encroaching a tract of forest within the park and hindering the growth of native species. We accomplished this goal by dividing into three groups--one group weeded, one group mulched and another group was doing miscellaneous tasks such as sawing tree limbs, placing logs on the hillside to terrace, carrying tarps of invasive plant material. From this volunteer event we not only learned about native flora and the effects that invasive species have on it, but also how working as a team can greatly enhance the productivity and achievement of a project. We definitely had a place for everyone who showed up, there was a lot of work to do and more to be done. However, with cooperation and dedication great things can get done! We also were able to learn about the other groups involved and their missions, allowing for cultural interaction and awareness. By the end of the day, we could already see the changes our work had made in improving the landscape, opening up space for native species to grow and flourish as well as the sweat on all our brows!
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The Davie chapter visited a local Pizza Fusion restaurant and learned how we can save and impact our environment while enjoying great pizza. Our crew of eight members (and moms) learned the importance of organics in this unique pizza business which uses only recyclable products - from potato starch utensils to cornstarch cups. Even the pizza boxes are recycled or can be returned to the store for a credit. We learned so much about how we can continue to help our planet. The group will be completing a monthly newsletter for their fifth grade classes to help others become educated on this topic as well as assisting a newly formed environmental club at school with their recycling efforts.
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Our group was contacted by Danielle Perry from Massachusetts. Her family was planning to spend six weeks in Alaska during late August/September. Upon the Perry's arrival, we discovered that they are homeschoolers, as are most of our group members. We spent all of September getting together for outdoor activities, building fairy houses in the woods, watching belugas, family dinners, meeting at parks and comparing Roots & Shoots activities and ideas. It was wonderful for our Alaska families to meet a Roots & Shoots family from another part of the country. We all came away from this fabulous experience with new friends and great new ideas for our group! Thanks to the Perry family for contacting us!

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