April 28, 2004 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Second and third-graders from Second Street School in Lexington traveled to Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort to get All Wild About Reading at the Earth Day Bookfest. The program was part of a broader effort of the Web site All Wild About Kentucky’s Environment (AWAKE).

The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service partnered with 4-H, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Tracy Farmer Center for the Environment and the Kentucky Department of Education to create the Web site which emphasizes environmental education for all ages.

Carol Hanley, UK Extension specialist for 4-H youth development, helped organize Wild About Reading. She believes emphasizing reading with environmental education is beneficial to students and teachers alike.

“I think of our environment as a bellwether,” she said. “If we don’t take care of our environment, what does that mean about our society? It tells a lot about what we think of ourselves.”

Several state government leaders participated by reading books to the children. One special guest was Kentucky First Lady Glenna Fletcher. Fletcher read Salamander Room and asked children questions about salamanders. Fletcher believes reading and environmental education is important at a young age.

“It’s so very important,” she said. “I’m excited about encouraging kids to read, and today we’re also encouraging kids to love nature and take care of the Earth.”

As spokeswoman for Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s initiative “Read to Achieve,” the First Lady travels to special events and schools reading to children and having conversations with parents about the importance of literacy. 

In addition to listening to books read by state government leaders, students came face-to-face with snakes, owls, falcons and other wildlife. They also toured Salato’s outdoor animal exhibits of Kentucky animals including the Bald Eagle, black bears, elk and more. 

Children also made salamander-themed crafts and shared their knowledge about Earth Day with each other.

“I have learned how to keep the world clean and no littering,” said second-grader Will Martin. “I don’t like to litter and I don’t like people who litter.”

Katima McMillan, also in second grade, said the event made her think about helping animals and the Earth and “thanking the Earth for letting us live on it.”

The AWAKE web site has many resources for children, teachers, parents and anyone interested in the outdoors and the environment.


Writer: Aimee D. Heald 859-257-4736, ext. 267
Source: Carol Hanley 859-257-5961