While most honor Earth Day in April, Fulton’s Volney Elementary School has a long history of an exciting annual celebration each May. This year, they honored the 29-year tradition with a day full of presentations, hands-on experiences, and outdoor activities.
On Friday, May 19, students at Volney Elementary began their day with a morning assembly where students previewed the day ahead and sang a number of Volney Earth Day songs as old as the tradition itself. With spirits high, building principal Elizabeth Stoddard then introduced Daniel Oostdyk of G&G Animals in Oswego as the first presenter of the day. Oostdyk, an animal rehabilitator, wowed students Pre-K through sixth with everything from tortoises and lizards to a chinchilla, a porcupine, and a massive Burmese python.
From there, students spread out around the school campus for a fun-filled day of unique, small-group presentations and activities from nearly two dozen individuals and outside groups. Sessions included such diverse topics as animal tracking, caring for birds, pollinators, dog training, bats, and electrical safety. Each was intended to give students hands-on learning and activities meant to inspire interest in nature, conservation and the natural sciences.
With so many exciting opportunities, students were divided on which was their favorite.
“The big snakes!” said fifth-grader Chandler Remp. “I used to have a bearded dragon and I have a ball python right now.”
Ava Thurlow, another fifth-grader, disagreed. “Definitely the dogs. I think it’s just so cool how passionate they are about what they know,” she said, referring to an elaborate dog agility course set up outside the school.
Now concluding its twenty-ninth year, the program was first developed by Volney teachers and staff in the 1990s. Though now retired, many of the original organizers return to volunteer each year and ensure the continuation of the tradition. Even Popeye, a beautiful blue and yellow parrot, still makes his annual appearance to teach students about birds.
Both students and organizers eagerly look forward to next May, which will mark three decades of the event.