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KWEC to celebrate Earth Day with Biosphere Block Party

The Kansas Wetlands Education Center will celebrate Earth Day with a Biosphere Block Party. A variety of crafts, workshops and fun will take place on Saturday, April 13, at the KWEC, located at 592 NE K-156. 

“Various organizations will be on hand to help us celebrate the third rock from the sun,” said Mandy Kern, program specialist at the center. 

Free come and go activities are offered from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day. 

“Eat a warm cookie fresh from the solar oven,” said Kern. “Say no to single-use plastic bags while you decorate a reusable tote to take grocery shopping. Use pedal power to see the difference in energy usage between incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs, and step into the Fort Hays State University Maker Van to turn two-liter plastic bottles into a rope!” 

Families will also receive free native wildflower and milkweed plants as well as a variety of seeds to grow at home, said Kern. 

All the events are free, but two of them require registration because of limited space: the two make-and-take rain barrel workshops (9 a.m. and again at noon), and the workshop on making folding crafts from recycled books at 10:15 a.m. 

To register, call the KWEC at the toll-free telephone number, 877-243-9268, or go to for more information. 

“We received a $1,000 Greenworks Grant from Project Learning Tree to offer the rain barrel workshop,” said Kern. “Forty families will decorate and construct a rain barrel they can take home.” 

During the summer months, she said, it is estimated that nearly 40 percent of household water is used for lawn and garden maintenance. A rain barrel can collect water and help lower water bills, conserve natural resources and decrease the amount of storm water runoff. 

A one-inch rainfall can produce more than 700 gallons of runoff from the roof of a typical house, she said. Area schools will also construct barrels for their outdoor classrooms. 

“This event will allow people of all ages to learn how to be more sustainable,” said Kern. “Rain barrels can help families become good stewards of the local watershed.”   

Another scheduled activity is free outdoor yoga, beginning at 11 a.m. Participants should bring comfy clothes and a mat if they can. 

The free come-and-go activities from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. include: 

• Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo will have a make-and-take recycled crafts.

• Barton County Women for Kansas will conduct a decorate-and-take, reusable grocery tote activity.

• A Be Well Barton County activity will involve fun with bicycles.

• The Kansas Energy Program will have hand- and bicycle-powered generators available to show much energy is needed to run different types of lights.

• The Fort Hays State University Maker Van will make rope from plastic bottles.

• Heartland Farm, a ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace near Pawnee Rock, will help visitors make solar oven cookies.

• Buffalo Brand Sharp Bros. Seeds, Healy, will have information on native grasses and wildflowers. 

• Members of the Hoisington High School Electric Car Club will demonstrate their project.

• A trailer equipped with a model of a stream bank, from the Barton County Conservation District, will enable visitors to manipulate erosion.