Francisca Benitez

On Friday, all third graders in La Grande and Island City attended Future Steward’s day, a tradition that has been taking place for more than a decade. The students learned about environmental issues like air pollution, water conservation and recycling. Solo Greene, education specialist with the Nez Perce Native American tribe also gave a presentation.

The third graders spent the day in small groups going to different stations set up in Riveria Activity Center to learn about a wide variety of conservational issues. Members of the community represented at the stations included individuals from the Forest Service, Oregon Trail Electric Co-op, the Department of Environmental Quality, and more. The students also got the chance to learn about and view four live birds: two hawks and two owls, which were brought to the event by Blue Mountain Wildlife.

Public Works Director Kyle Carpenter said he hopes students are excited enough about what they learned to bring the information home to their families. He said this year the event received a grant from the DEQ, but is usually funded by the city.

Rebecca Elliott from the DEQ had a station at the event, and she taught kids about air pollution and how to check the air quality on, which can be useful for people with asthma.

At the water conservation table, the children learned about ways they can save water, and how much water is used to make different things. One example provided at the table was how it takes 1,800 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans.

Greene has been coming to the event to present for many years, and he said it’s always fun.

“It’s really worthwhile,” he said. “We’re trying to get kids to realize and understand even the small things that we’re able to do (can) make a big difference.” He showed the children some traditional Native American objects like drums, a staff and a baby Bjorn. He explained the importance of taking care of the Earth and not letting things go to waste.

See complete story in Monday's Observer