Mexico Middle School students observe a watershed demonstration Tuesday at Fairground Park as part of Earth Day celebrations from Missouri State Floodplain Management Officer Lori Blatter, pictured at left. She explained how watersheds help reduce downstream flooding as compared to communities with large amounts of nonporous surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt.
Adriana Garms observes a drone's camera feed Tuesday during Earth Day celebrations at Fairground Park. The drone was operated by Lt. Kenny Wyss of Civil Air Patrol. The booth was a popular stop for students during the day's event.
A Mexico Middle School student looks at the underbelly of a crayfish through a field microscope Tuesday at Fairground Park as part of Earth Day celebrations, coordinated by the Mexico Department of Parks and Recreation.

Students from Mexico Public School engaged with multiple local businesses, environmental clubs and state agencies Tuesday afternoon as part of Earth Day celebrations held at Fairground Park.

The day's event was themed around environmental education and 16 different groups, including Mexico Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments, conducted presentations and held activities on that theme.

This was Mexico Parks and Recreation Supervisor Brooke Jameson's second year planning the event, she wrote in a news release.

"I am excited to see it continue to grow into something special," she said. "Anytime we can get young folks out in the parks and enjoying and learning about nature, I think that's a good thing."

Presentations included a demonstration of wetlands and potential flooding dangers from State Floodplain Management Officer Lori Blatter. She explained how watershed areas are needed to help prevent flooding as areas with higher concentrations of concrete or asphalt can lead to flooding further downstream for low-lying areas.

City Engineer Drew Williford explained stormwater and wastewater to students, describing how both can affect water sources in the city. He also explained what the city is doing to combat water issues.

Students could go to tables, booths and games in something of a free-for-all, Jameson said.

"Each booth has a different Earth Day message that pertains to what their industry might want to teach," she said. "Each (student) got a card, and so to keep them engaged, there are stickers they can earn to decode a message so they can earn a pool pass."

Some booths focused on creature interaction, such as with Missouri crayfish presented by Kathi Moore, Missouri Department of Conservation education consultant. The adult crayfish she had available were no more than two inches long. She advised students to lift them by the tail.

"There are 36 different species of crayfish in Missouri, (which is) one of the more diverse places to find them in the world," Moore said.

Scattering Fork Outdoor Center brought its Earth ball on which students had to find the United States, and small dot for Mexico, as well as Australia.

One booth which captured the attention of many of the students was the Civil Air Patrol with its flying drone operated by Lt. Kenny Wyss. Civil Air Patrol conducts various operations, including search and rescue, where a drone may be used.