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The R&S members worked with our primate keeper to come up with primate enrichment that they could make and give out to participants of the Calitrichid Conference that came to the zoo. We went to the a local recycle center to buy cheap supplies. Then we made puzzle feeders (enough for 100 primates). The kids also made puzzle feeders for the participant of the conference and filled them with jelly beans
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One of the members brought in an article about the hippos in Nairobi and the bad things that have been happening to them. The kids really wanted to do something to help the hippos in Nairobi. They decided to set up a fundraiser at their school to collect money for these hippos. Once the money was collected, they researched facilities, both in the US and in Africa, that helped hippos. They decided to give $100 to the SanDiego Zoo. They also got a chance to talk to a member of the staff at SanDiego Zoo to ask how the money would be spent and learn a bit more about the hippos. The kids donated the remainder of the money to the International Hippo Foundation. This was an easy project for them with great results. We got a picture from the SanDiego Zoo that went in the R&S scrapbook.
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This was an awesome project. We partnered with the Tourette's Assocation of RI and the ZooKeepers at the Zoo. The kids first met with the ZooKeepers to talk about animal enrichment and the importance of it. The kids and the keepers brainstormed enrichment ideas. The kids then picked an animal to build enrichment toys for. At the next meeting, the R&S kids met the kids from TSA. They got a chance to do icebreakers and get a chance to know each other. At the next meeting, both groups built enrichment items together for the Bison (made a scarecrow out of forsythia), peccary (made a puzzle feeder), rabbits (bunny castle out of boxes), gibbons(filled PVC pipes with different things and sealed) and the kangaroos (boxes with hay). At the first meeting, we gave the enrichment items to the keepers. This was a blast!
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We hosted a child's birthday party at Teatown Lake Reservation, a Nature Preserve and Education Center. For a fee we had a party room and were given a presentation by a volunteer educator about local animals and their habitats. By choosing to host our party at Teatown we were supporting the Preserve and the animals that live there. Parties are wasteful. Paper cups and plates, plastic knives forks and spoons are used once and thrown away. Helium balloons last only a day and then become at best garbage or at worst choking and strangulation hazards for wildlife. Even the party favors come in throw-away bags with toys that are of little long-term interest and therefore become garbage too. We took a different approach. We used inexpensive, shatterproof, reusable plates, cups and silverware. Instead of balloons, inflatable vinyl animals and beach balls (saved from last year's party) were placed around the room for decoration. Finally, instead of a plastic bag filled with meaningless trinkets we gave reusable shopping bags containing a small stuffed animal, a healthy snack and the following message: "Almost a trillion (1,000,000,000,000) plastic bags are used annually. They persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years. Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine deaths every year when animals mistake them for food. Once swallowed, plastic bags choke animals or block their intestines leading to a painful death. Plastic bags wrap around living corals quickly suffocating and killing them causing the animals that eat coral to not get as much food as they need and die. Well over a billion single-use plastic bags are given out free each day. Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags. Kids can help, too. Please take this bag with you the next time you go shopping. You might save a fish or a turtle!"
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The purpose of the clean-up was to remove the trash from the river and make it look better and a better place for animals. The group had a great time and we got six to eight bags of trash. The project would have gone on longer, but the day was hot and humid, so we had to quit early. My daughter and I were discussing ideas and this seemed perfect. The river had been cleaned of PCBs two years earlier and it was depressing to see it in such bad shape again. There was even a sofa lying in the water. The river looked so much better after this and the group was excited to be doing something like this.
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Pulling invasive plant species Brittlestem Hempnettle from a park in Girdwood, Alaska. The kids and parents learned about the many dangerous invasive plant species which have been brought to the area and which are destroying the native plants and habitat. The project was definitely inspiring to all the participants who didn't previously realize the dangers of invasive plants and did not realize the extent of their spread into other environments.
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In honor of National Pick up Litter Day, we met at a local beach to collect trash. First we learned what to do, and not to do when cleaning a beach, via www.healthebay.org. Then we held a meeting to discuss why it's so bad for trash to be in our oceans, what can make the sea creatures sick and ways they are killed. Then the kids are separated into groups of two to make mini-posters. The posters showed kids and creatures in a polluted ocean, and a few with everyone (including a mermaid) enjoying a clean ocean. Another said "save our sea serpent." The next meeting was at the beach. The kids helped attach their posters to sticks, stuck the posters around our blankets, had a mini-lecture on safety and then went off to collect trash! To illustrate how difficult it would be for a creature to get a soda ring off it's mouth, we put a rubber band onto our pinkies, pulled it across the back and put in our thumbs. The rubber band was Impossible to remove with just that hand, and really brought the point home to us all.
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We learned about the ways plastic and paper bags harm the environment. A friend donated some fabric to us, and we set about sewing shopping bags. We are looking for more fabric donations, so we'll have enough cloth shopping bags to sell. In the mean time we are trying to create the lightest-weight produce and grain bag.
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Members & parents glued markers that say "Please Don't Dump - Drains to Stream" on storm drains in our community. We worked in groups with markers and maps provided by our local Soil & Water Conservation District. We marked 35 drains. This is the second year for our storm drain marking activity.
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We were invited by our Interfaith Campus Ministries to design and create an indoor "sacred space" for students. This was to be a space where any student, of any faith could come to meditate or pray. Our R&S group used nature as the theme for the room. We found a wall sized mural of a birch forest (in honor of Dr. Jane) for one wall. We pulled colors from the mural to paint the rest of the walls. We hung Christmas lights from the ceiling to simulate stars. Finally we brought in large over stuffed pillows, plants and a fountain to finish the room.

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