Western Connecticut State University will host an Earth Day Celebration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, featuring nature hikes, exhibits and interactive activities at the Westside Nature Preserve on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury.
The event, sponsored by Praxair, Inc., and organized by the WCSU Science Education Outreach Office as part of the Finding Our Way program, will offer the opportunity for participants to take tours of the Westside Nature Preserve guided by faculty members of the university’s Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. Hikers will observe vernal pools, tree species and emerging plant life along the preserve trails in the early spring.
Interactive exhibits will allow visitors to explore the natural wonders of entomology, fungi and bacteria, including tables where they will view insect life, identify tick species under a microscope, and create art with maggots. “These exhibits featuring insects and friends, mushrooms and friends, and cyanobacteria and friends will help to teach the public how to monitor the health of their environment,” remarked Dr. Theodora Pinou, Finding Our Way coordinator and professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences.
Admission to the event will be free and the public is invited to attend; light refreshments will be provided. Visitors should proceed on University Boulevard from the Westside campus entrance, continuing beyond the O’Neill Center and just beyond a university maintenance garage. Signage will direct visitors to parking along the roadside and access by foot to the Westside Nature Preserve entrance kiosk.
Pinou noted that the event is designed especially to provide outdoor learning experiences for families with children of middle school age. Finding Our Way, a WCSU educational initiative conducted in cooperation with Danbury Public Schools and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, provides collaborative classroom instruction and field trips that engage seventh-grade students, their families and teachers in programs promoting environmental conservation and sustainable practices.