Event co-organizer Annalisa Switzer, who is co-chair of the Coles Progressives, said the People's Climate Movement had a call to action on Saturday for local groups to hold events to promote the transition to renewable energy sources. She said the Coles Progressives then decided to organize an event to provide educational activities for children and to highlight job opportunities in the renewable energy industry.
MATTOON – Nine-year-old Joshua Peterson of Charleston kept working Saturday morning to craft a paper airplane that would glide through the air as far as possible.
“It was fun. I didn’t do too good today, but I can do much better,” Joshua said as he prepared for another flight.
Joshua and his family were among those who filled the Douglas-Hart Nature Center’s visitor center for the inaugural “Power Our Planet: A Celebration of Sun and Wind” held by the Coles Progressives and People’s Climate Movement. His brothers, 12-year-old John and 11-year-old Caleb, volunteered at this event with Boy Scouts Troop 141.
“They are really Douglas-Hart groupies. They really do whatever is offered out here. They are big fans,” said their mother, Jennifer Peterson, who also had her 7-year-old son Elijah there.
“Power Our Planet” participants made paper airplanes and kites, viewed reptiles brought by the Eastern Illinois University Herpetology Club, and looked over informational booths provided by solar and wind energy companies and by EIU and Lake Land College.
Event co-organizer Annalisa Switzer, who is co-chair of the Coles Progressives, said the People’s Climate Movement had a call to action on Saturday for local groups to hold events to promote the transition to renewable energy sources. She said the Coles Progressives then decided to organize an event to provide educational activities for children and to highlight job opportunities in the renewable energy industry.
“I am pretty happy about it. We are getting people in to learn about renewable energy,” said event co-organizer Paula Enstrom amid the crowd of families at the visitor center. She said Saturday’s event will help start a local conversation about renewable energy. “The way you start is to get people here to play and talk.”
Both Enstrom and Switzer said they plan to hold a public meeting about renewable energy in October that will feature various guest speaks, including EIU and Lake Land faculty members who work in this field.
On Saturday, Danielle Coonour of Charleston and her 4-year-old son Liam checked out the spinning tabletop turbines that were on display at the Lake Land renewable energy program booth. Coonour said Liam loves to learn about technology and to attend summer camps at the nature center.
Joe Tillman, renewable energy instructor/program coordinator, said Lake Land is a community college, so he and his students are happy to help out with community events like the one at the nature center. Tillman said he was really impressed by the turnout for the “Power Our Planet” event and by the number of children who tried out the little turbines.
“When you can have hands on activities, that is the best way to learn,” Tillman said.
At the “Power Our Planet” event, Kevin and Pam Paulding of Oakland and their 9-year-old son Waylon built a box kite frame out of prairie grass stalks and twine. Pam Paulding said he was glad to see children learning about age old ways of utilizing renewable energy, such as using wind mills to pump water out of wells.
“This is old school technology,” Kevin Paulding said.
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