March 18, 2015 | By: Carol Lea Spence
LEXINGTON, Ky., -

In April, spring makes its presence known with morning birdsong and delicate blooms shyly peeking from autumn’s old leaves. It is the month folks celebrate Earth in all her glorious, yet fragile beauty. University of Kentucky students are marking the occasion on April 4 with Earth Day at McConnell Springs, a day filled with fun and educational activities for the whole family.

Each year, led by forest ecology professor Mary Arthur, the seniors in Natural Resources and Environmental Science, part of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, turn their sights on an environmental or natural resource issue. This year, the 25 students have focused on McConnell Springs. The environmental education committee is working on ways to expand the vision of what the park can offer in the way of educational programming.

“We created our capstone project with a focus on connecting the surrounding Lexington community with this incredible natural urban gem,” said Mariah Lewis, one of the event’s organizers. “We hope that we can encourage and convince children, adolescents and college students that a connection with nature is essential for developing a healthy adult lifestyle. We also hope that this connection could one day help promote a more sustainable future.”

Earth Day at McConnell Springs, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT, not only focuses on nature, with guided hikes to discover the natural flora and fauna of the area and exhibits with birds of prey, reptiles and amphibians, but also on sustainability. Workshops conducted by local organizations will teach composting with and without worms, rain barrel construction and tree maintenance.

Off Old Frankfort Pike with its entrance tucked inside an industrial park, McConnell Springs is still a well-kept secret from many area residents. Lewis and her fellow committee members, Jeff Buckles, Jason Fibel, Becca Petry and Kaelin Salazar, hope to introduce more people to the hidden woodlands, home to the spring upon which Lexington was founded.

“We wanted to help introduce students to the park, as well as provide opportunities for people to learn about a variety of sustainability initiatives that they can incorporate in their everyday lives,” Lewis said. “Also, this is an entirely outdoor event, so people can get away from our technology-driven world for an afternoon and intimately interact with nature.”

As of this date, local groups that will be participating in Earth Day at McConnell Springs are: UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and UK Cooperative Extension, UK Recycling, UK Office of Sustainability, UK Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, Big Blue Pantry, Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council, Floracliff Nature Sanctuary, Friends of McConnell Springs, Greenhouse 17, Greenthumb, Morris Bookshop, Transylvania University’s Office of Sustainability and Watershed Watch.

McConnell Springs is located at 416 Rebmann Lane, Lexington 40504. More information about the event can be found at http://tinyurl.com/McConnellSpringsEvent.

Contact: 

Mariah Lewis, 224-406-6206; Mary Arthur, 859-257-2852