Green Fair: Bothwell kids learn about sustainable living

MARQUETTE – Bothwell Middle School students got a look at sustainable living during the school’s first ever Green Fair, held all day Wednesday inside the middle school gym.

“It’s been great,” said science teacher Jennifer Tapolcai, who organized the event. “(The students) have been very engaged.”

The fair played host to a number of local businesses and nonprofits, from young start-ups such as nonprofit Revolutions to long-standing local organizations such as the Marquette Food Co-op and the city of Marquette Arts and Culture Center.

Students visiting the Revolutions booth learned about the new program and its aim to teach kids about bicycle, ski and snowshoe maintenance.

At the city’s arts and culture booth, which partnered with the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, students decorated paper grocery bags with environmentally friendly messages. The bags will be returned to their respective stores to be distributed on Earth Day.

The co-op was using its “Lexicon of Sustainability” images to help grab the attention of the fifth- through eighth-grade students, helping to teach them the vocabulary of sustainable living.

“When you see the kids really looking at these, you know that they’re really getting something out of it,” said Sarah Monte, education coordinator for the co-op. “It makes the whole experience worth it.”

Thane Padilla and Sally Western were manning the Save the Wild U.P. booth, which offered information on the dangers of sulfide mining and had kids write down the things they enjoyed about Lake Superior and living in the Upper Peninsula.

Other booths, like the Marquette Growth booth, showed students how far food has to travel to get to Marquette. Some offered information about beekeeping, rowing and community efforts to live more sustainably.

“It really says something about our community that we have this many businesses and organizations that are about sustainability and are interested in teaching the kids,” Tapolcai said.

Students were allowed to move freely through the gym, checking out the booths that most interested them.

Many vendors said the students seemed very responsive to the idea of sustainable living.

“It’s a new concept for them, to think about the long-term impact of their lifestyles,” Tapolcai said.