Celebrate Earth Day at the Swaner EcoCenter | ParkRecord.com

Celebrate Earth Day at the Swaner EcoCenter

Ellie Donovan and her sister Erin take a closer look at a Sandhill Crane egg during last year's Earth Day celebration at the Swaner Eco Center. This year's event will be held Saturday, April 27. (Photo by Tyler Cobb / The Park Record)

The Swaner EcoCenter and Preserve is known as "a gateway to the natural world," and a free Earth Day celebration that will be held on Saturday, April 27, fits right in its mission to preserve, educate and nurture.

"The big overall goal is to get people to come and learn a little more about the Swaner Preserve," said Andrew Giunta, co-organizer for the Swaner EcoCenter’s Earth Day Celebration. "The other goal is to get people to enjoy the outdoors and get involved in some fun, hands-on activities, that teach everyone to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and show them how many more options are out there."

Saturday’s event will run from noon until 2 p.m., and the EcoCenter’s climbing wall will be open until 3 p.m.

"For the past couple of years, we’ve held an Earth Day event, but this year is the first time we will hold it on a Saturday, which is a few days after Earth Day, but a day where families can really spend some time with us," Giunta explained.

The celebration will feature a variety of activities.

"One will be a scavenger hunt on our Wetlands Discovery Trail," he said. "That will be a fun way to get people on a short hike and learn about what’s going on ecologically at the Preserve."

The staff also invited an avian-appreciation group called Earthwings to participate.

"They offer educational, live-bird outreach presentations throughout Utah, and will bring a falcon and owl to the EcoCenter for some programs to teach the public about bird conservation," Giunta explained. "They’ll also let some of their birds fly around the plaza and teach a bit about falconry.

"Furthermore, the presenters will also give some local birding tips and tell stories about what they see up in Summit County and what to look for at this time of year," he said.

Other kiosks will include displays from an array of environmentally friendly organizations.

"Recycle Utah will also be on site to talk about the different conservation initiatives they do, and they will offer a fun, recycled craft for kids and adults to do," Giunta said.

There will be a station where kids and adults will have the opportunity to make envelopes out of recycled magazines.

"These envelopes will be legal to use in the mail," Giunta said.

There will also be a display about wind energy.

"We’ll have these little windmill models where the public will be able to make their own turbine blades and hook them up to a volt meter to see how much energy the designs will put out," Giunta said. "It will be cool to see how the designs affect the amount of energy that can be generated."

Another new attraction will be the small two-feet-by-two-feet garden grow boxes that will be available for purchase.

"We’ll make these out of wood and sell them," Giunta said. "Along with the boxes, we’ll offer some lettuce and sprout seeds. People will be able take these boxes home and fill them with soil and plant the seeds so they can have a little garden in the back yards.

"These boxes will provide a nice opportunity for people who are too busy to maintain a big garden to grow some vegetables for a nice meal later on," he said. "While admission and participation in the celebration will be free, we will charge $5 for these boxes just to defer the cost of materials.

Inside the EcoCenter, the wetlands climbing wall will be open.

"That’s one of our more popular attractions," Giunta said. "The wall will be open until 3 p.m., so people can get a little exercise and learn about the wetlands while they are climbing."

Throughout the event, people will be encouraged to learn more about the Swaner EcoCenter and its mission.

"The entire preserve is about 1,200 acres, and 800 of that is south of I-80, right behind the center," Giunta explained. "That’s called our wetlands preserve."

The other 400 acres are located under the bridge and on the north side of the Interstate and runs up the hill and along East Canyon Creek.

"Roughly 10 miles of the Glenwild Trail system is on the Preserve’s property over there," Giunta said. "It’s sort of a bisected preserve.

"But we are one of the largest, open-space, high-altitude meadow, natural habitat and nature reserve," he said. "And what better place to learn about conservationism and the environment to celebrate Earth Day?"

The Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Dr. at Kimball Junction, will host an Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 27, from noon until 2 p.m. The free event is designed to help children and adults better understand and appreciate our environment. For more information, visit http://www.swanerecocenter.org/education-calendar/calendar.html .

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