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Gaia's helpers.

Nestled in the woods of northern Pennsylvania is Sizerville State Park, a small and rather remote place with one huge advantage: Lisa Bainey.

Bainey is a 32-year-old environmental education specialist, and she is determined to help the earth by appealing to the people who will soon be making the business and political decisions needed to save our environment.

Every Thursday dozens of children between the ages of three and 13 gather at the park for an afternoon of environmental discovery. With Bainey's help, they build nesting boxes for bluebirds or bats. They write to pen pals in rainforest countries. They simulate oil spills by filling a shallow pan with water and cooking oil, then use booms to corral it, strainers to skim it off, and detergent to clean oil-soaked feathers.

At one Earth Day program at a preschool, Bainey explained how whales and other sea creatures are often injured or killed after eating fragments of broken balloons, which resemble jellyfish. A few days later, she received a phone call from a bewildered parent. Apparently, one of the toddlers had become quite upset at a wedding ceremony when a net filled with balloons was released. Bainey, a mother herself, sympathized with the upset parent but was happy to learn that the children take environmental issues to heart.

Bainey designed these children's workshops five years ago under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks. Despite the balloon case, Sizerville State Park receives favorable feedback from parents and members of the community. In the near future, Bainey hopes to reach parents directly by conducting a joint parent and child workshop on conservation.

Making recycled paper is always a favorite of the children. They put shredded newspaper through a blender, squish the resulting pulp through a screen, then press it between two boards to squeeze the water out. The resultt is coarse, gray paper, which the kids can write their names on.

She also organized a group of "junior naturalists," ages nine to 13, who are exploring possible solutions to the slash-and-burn destruction of South American rainforests. "Some of the solutions are a bit far-fetched," Bainey admits, "but all of them are worth listening to."

The Cameron County school district has commended Bainey for her work. In fact, Lisa Bainey is one of thousands of dedicated educators around the country who are truly unsung heroes instilling an ethic of stewardship toward our earth.

What does Bainey get out of this--apart from a job? She replies that it is the satisfaction she feels when she sees children at the town recycling center or planting trees and filling bird feeders in their backyards.

"If you can reach one or two children, you get the chain started," she says. "I'd be very happy to know that their parents are listening too."

We know of one parent who surely heard the message.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Lisa Bainey teaches children about ecology
Author:Stahr, Sheryl E.
Publication:American Forests
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Previous Article:The Christmas-tree lady.
Next Article:The critical question of sustainable forests.

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