The three-day event, which drew bus loads of students from St. Dominic School, Kingsport City Schools, Sullivan County Schools, and Bristol Tennessee Schools, marked the seventh straight year with Republic Services as its title sponsor.
“Keep Kingsport Beautiful conducts this camp each September, with the support of Republic Services’ generous sponsorship,” said Robin Cleary, director of KKB. “In addition, Eastman has again donated the use of their Bays Mountain Recreation Area, which is a great facility that includes covered picnic shelters and playgrounds. Additional assistance comes from Kingsport Public Works, as well as Chef’s Pizzeria and Arby’s of Colonial Heights, both of which provided lunch for the camp instructors and volunteers.”
Groups of students rotated through 12 stations, ranging in topics from “Rocks for Kids — Geology, Rock Life Cycles, Fossils and Plate Tectonics” by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, to “Forest Fire Control” by the Tennessee Division of Forestry. Volunteer presenters from various agencies, companies and organizations provided the educational programming.
The goal of Conservation Camp is to introduce students to a variety of environmental learning activities, Cleary and Republic Service’s Scott McConnelee said.
“It’s just a great field trip for our area fourth-graders to come out and learn a little about sustainability and the environment they live in,” Cleary said. “There’s a little ecology, a little biology, and a little chemistry thrown in. It’s a great hands-on field trip that gets them out of the classroom and outdoors, and we are very happy to be able to bring this to them.”
For Republic Services, sponsoring and participating in the event goes hand-in-hand with the company’s dedication to give back to the communities it serves, McConnelee said.
Especially important, McConnelee said, is helping sharpen students’ focus on recycling.
A portion of Republic’s presentation took part in a mobile classroom that has interactive displays students could use to learn more about what can be achieved through recycling and other choices to lessen waste.
McConnelee said those displays help drive the point home and often those manning them could see “the light bulb go off” for students while they were inside the mobile classroom.
One fact shared with students: Globally, one million plastic grocery bags are distributed each minute of every day — and if placed in a landfill, those bags take 20 years to decompose.
Keep Kingsport Beautiful is a cooperative program between the city of Kingsport and the Kingsport Chamber. An affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the program has won more than 60 state, regional and national awards.