Who doesn’t love a banana slug?

Bethany J. Royer

May 16, 2014

By Bethany J. Royer

Staff Writer


TROY — Who likes nature, mountains, and the seas?

Who likes banana slugs?

Why, the entire fourth-grade of Concord Elementary School, as a beautiful, six foot tall banana slug (nature’s giant recycler) came out to greet Professor Banana (and an exuberant audience) during the Banana Slug String Band concert held in the rabbit and poultry barn of the Miami County Fairgrounds Friday morning.

Under direction from Professor Banana, students sung and performed a variety of songs including one that explained the process of weathering, erosion, and deposition. The concert was just one of several activities offered throughout the day and as part of a week-long Hug the Earth Festival held by the Miami County Park District.

The concert, art activities, earthball games, and more marks the conclusion of a three-part educational program held by the Miami County Park District that makes learning about nature both hands on and fun. So while Concord got their weathering, erosion, and deposition groove on, Piqua Washington Intermediate fourth-grade students, including their math teacher Kimberly Sollmann and science teacher Tiffany Williams, were taking part in rock climbing and zip line activities by the stadium.

Sollmann explained how students learned the lyrics to the songs, made costumes and musical instruments before the big day, as Williams shared the academic curriculum standards and how a Miami County Park District grant aids area schools in transportation to two of the three series programs.

The program begins with a visit by the park district to area classrooms to learn science concepts, teach the lyrics to the songs and make costumes with aid from Steven Pope, Education Department Administrative Naturalist for the park district, followed by a trip to Charleston Falls for hands-on learning on the water cycle, and finally the festival as a final hurrah.

“It’s hard not to enjoy yourself,” said Amanda Smith, Marketing and Public Relations at Miami County Park District, of the fun-filled programs.

Smith explained how the Hug the Earth Festival has been held for over 18 years, with nearly 3,000 students taking part this year thanks to the aid of 163 volunteers, over 500 teachers and chaperons, and as many as 30 Miami County Park District staff.

The Hug the Earth Festival continues today from noon to 5 p.m. at Stillwater Prairie Reserve. Admission is free but donations are welcomed. There will be outdoor fun for the entire family from rock wall and tree climbing, zip line, rocket shoot, rock and fossil dig, archery, horse drawn animal safari rides, canoeing, geocaching, fairy and gnome house building and food vendors.

The Banana Slug String Band will play from noon to 1 p.m.

For more information visit miamicountyparks.com

Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall