The Preserve’s Earth Day Celebration

by Johanna Gross

 Gateway Board Member Phyllis B. Smith helps visitors to the Gateway booth create bee rafts.

Gateway Board Member Phyllis B. Smith helps visitors to the Gateway booth create bee rafts.

Last month, environmentalists and families came together to celebrate Earth Day. Historically, this day has focused on raising awareness of humanity’s increasing impact on the environment. And every year the Piedmont Environmental Alliance puts on the Earth Day Fair to educate the families and residents of Winston-Salem. And like everyone else who cares about the planet we live on, the Gateway Nature Preserve joined the Fair, hosting its own education booth and kids’ activities.

Since the Preserve is celebrating the Year of the Pollinator, our booth focused on encouraging Winston-Salem residents to create pollinator-friendly gardens and backyards. 

For the kids, we had two activities. The first was creating Bee Rafts. Like the name suggests, these are small rafts made from sticks and rubber bands to help bees float. Bees often find themselves drowning in bird baths as they are trying to grab a drink. Since the surfaces of many of these baths are often smooth, bees find themselves unable to get out and end up drowning. Bees rafts are an easy way to prevent this. 

This activity was slightly harder for younger children, but for older kids, this was a great way for them to feel like they were saving the bees. Kids had to take a rubber band, wrap it around each individual stick (they only needed three), and then tie the rubber band around the sticks together. It will float in standing water and let bees safely climb onto the raft where they fly away after drying off. 

The second activity was making seed bombs. We used seed from a hummingbird wildflower mix and compost to make the balls. If the kids didn’t mind getting their hands dirty, they grabbed a small handful of dirt and rolled it into a ball. Next, they poked a finger into the rolled ball to make a hole and put a few seeds inside. Then they closed the hole by rolling it again. Voila! A seed bomb! When the kids got home, they could toss the ball into their yards and have native wildflowers pop up later in the season!

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While one of our team members helped the kids with their projects, other Gateway members explained the Gateway Nature Preserve about our upcoming projects and five-year plan. We would encourage parents to join our emailing list to hear about all of our upcoming events. Here at the Gateway Nature Preserve, we aim at building a community. We want people to come to the preserve and enjoy the company of each other or the birds singing. We want people to love the Preserve as much as we do. 

At the Earth Day Fair, we had a chance of including others into our community. It was a blast playing in the mud with kids while talking with their parents, grandparents, youth church leaders, and . We hope that everyone who stopped by our booth had just as much fun we did. And we look forward to seeing you at our next Gateway Nature Preserve event.