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Earth takes center stage at Renfrew event

April 28, 2003|by BONNIE HELLUM BRECHBILL

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Strung beside a path in Renfrew Park, haiku about trees, written and illustrated by local third-graders, shared space with homemade kites. Written on the tails of the kites were ideas on how to protect the Earth.

Participants in Sunday's Earth Day Celebration at Renfrew Institute in Waynesboro enjoyed the scent of spring flowers and sunny, breezy weather.

Numerous displays and vendors were scattered around the grassy area behind the stone house at Renfrew.

Nine girls ages 5 and 6 from Daisy Troop 853 in Greencastle, Pa., presented a puppet show called, "Jump, Frog, Jump."

Daisies are the first level in Girl Scouts. According to troop co-leader Krista Smith, the girls are learning that "each of us can do small things to make a difference." Their Earth Day activities earned them two petals, "Use Resources Wisely" and "Make the World a Better Place," which will be worn on their Daisy shirts.

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The girls also entertained the crowd as part of a jug band. Shayna Murphy, 6, of Greencastle, played the washboard while Kayleigh Smith and Megan Provard used a wooden spoon and a tambourine.

At the Recycle Rainwater display, Shawn Dennison of Hagerstown said 1 inch of rainfall on a 1,000-square-foot roof yields 623 gallons of water. Caught in 60-gallon plastic barrels placed under the downspout, the water is strictly for lawn and garden use, not for human or animal consumption. Many people connect a seeper hose to the spigots on the barrels and run the water to their gardens, Dennison said.

In the last 30 years, the U.S. population has grown 52 percent, but the demand for water has tripled, according to information at the booth. Lawn and garden watering accounts for 40 percent of household water use during the summer months.

The large, black barrels are a new project for the Scott Key Center in Frederick, Md., said Dennison, job developer at the center.

Developmentally disabled adults put the recycled food-grade barrels together, install the screens and fittings, and shine them up, he said.

Rehabitat Inc., a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to rehabilitating, releasing and raising awareness of birds of prey, brought three owls to the Earth Day event.

Jamie Van Boskirk, a Rehabitat volunteer from Marysville, Pa., held a great horned owl on her heavily-gloved arm.

"The owl can turn its head almost all the way around, just like your Mom does," she told a group of young girls. The owl cannot fly due to a broken wing that did not heal properly, and would not survive in the wild. It is fed mice, and lives in a 100-foot flight cage with other owls, hawks and vultures in Dillsburg, Pa.

Volunteer Cindy Halliburton of Quincy, Pa., held a screech owl. "It's neurologically impaired," she said, "and cannot fly well enough to catch prey."

A fluffy, 4-week-old barn owl also attracted a lot of attention. "Like babies, he spends most of his time eating and sleeping," Rehabitat volunteer Barry Stone told visitors.

He said that while owls have a reputation for being wise, they really are not very smart.

"They have night vision," Stone said, "so their eyes are very large. There is not much room left in their heads for a brain. But their instinct is so refined that it gives them the appearance of being intelligent."

Because barn owls are struggling to maintain numbers in Pennsylvania, Rehabitat has federal and state licensing to breed them, Stone said. When the birds are old enough, they will be placed in appropriate locations in Central Pennsylvania. Now in its third year, the program placed 18 barn owls in the wild the first year, and 30 last year.

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