Stephens County students learn about conservation on Earth Day

Marlow_On Tuesday, Stephens County youngsters found out dirt is more than something that gets their clothes dirty. They learned it has a lot of layers, and what each layer does - an appropriate topic for Earth Day. The great outdoors was the 150 fourth graders' classroom as they spent the day at Redbud Park in Marlow.

They learned through hands-on activities organized by the National Resources Conservation Service. The kids got to touch animal furs, and learned why they shouldn't hunt endangered species. Perhaps most important, they learned why we need to keep one of the earth's greatest resources clean - water.

The kids learned and made new friends, interacting with kids from other schools. And, all of them made a very big new friend named "Sister." The fourth graders learned about layers of dirt, and got the opportunity to see a soil scientist drill into the earth and pull up several feet worth of dirt. "We call it the outdoor classroom," says Marlow Elementary School Science Teacher Debbie Pryor. "So, it's just the same thing, but we actually get to see it out in nature, which is the way it's supposed to be."

The kids also got to learn where they get their milk. "One of the things that I enjoy about outdoor classrooms, is a lot of times if you ask kids where milk comes from, they're gonna tell you from the grocery store," says Dana Davis with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Of course, before it arrives at the grocery store, it comes from a cow. Since Stephens County doesn't have a dairy, they imported one for the kids for this special hands-on learning experience.

Todd Griffith and his cow "Sister" came all the way from Sulpher Springs, Texas, to visit the kids. "We want them to know - even though this a rural community - we want them to know exactly where milk comes from," says Davis. Griffith talked about cows and showed the kids how to milk Sister - first by hand, then with a machine. He explained that we didn't always have milking machines, so the kids had the opportunity to see how things were done in times past - they even saw a blacksmith mold steel the old fashioned way. "I liked watching him telling us about how they used to make tools," said fourth grader Makayla Ortega.

Soon, it was back to the future as Oklahoma Highway Patrolmen showed off their lights and sirens, and talked about keeping Oklahoma safe. "We got to learn about the cops, and that they travel all through Oklahoma trying to protect people," said another fourth grader, Jackson White.

This day was all about going beyond textbooks. "We just learn the same stuff," says fourth grader Emily Linsky. "But it's more exciting because we get to be outside all day, and we don't have to sit in our classrooms." A classmate agrees. "It's a lot better than being in the classroom," said Brady Woolwine.

It was educational for the grown-ups too. For instance, did you know a Holstein cow, like Sister, produces 12 gallons of milk per day? When heifers are producing milk, they are milked 2-3 times per day, every day, for 10 months straight. That's a lot of moo juice.