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Sustainability Fair Helping Turn Lewisboro Green

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Five years ago a group of employees from the Katonah-Lewisboro school district who were passionate about the environment, sustainability and green living got together. The district’s sustainability committee found that the schools were engaging students in projects and lessons about these issues. As a result, the idea for a Wellness and Sustainability Fair was inspired.

The district held its fifth annual fair over the weekend at John Jay High School, featuring more than 40 booths from area organizations teaching people how to be more environmentally conscious and lead greener lifestyles.

“It was really impressive considering that at the time there were no overarching programs,” Terry Costin said of that meeting five years ago. Costin is vice principal at Katonah Elementary School and chair of the Wellness & Sustainability Fair.

“We thought it was a shame that we didn’t have the opportunity to celebrate all the good work that was going on,” he added. “So that spring we held the first (fair).”

Since then the fair has grown. It now includes community organizations in addition to school groups.

Linda Burke, the instructor for the AP environmental science class, said her class, which had an exhibit at the fair, is a good way to engage students in environmental issues.

“Kids can go out and get dirty and do stuff with their hands,” she said.

Currently, her class is working on a project about bluebird nesting.

“We have something called Bluebird Trail on campus where the students monitor bluebird nesting,” she said. “The data they collect goes to Cornell University’s Nest Watch. It’s educating students about sustainability.”

Costin said that though the fair was well-attended, he always wishes more people would take part.

“I always wish we had a bigger crowd,” he said. “We want people to share our passion. The Town of Lewisboro is making a concerted effort on sustainability, and we’ll continue to hold this fair, because we don’t want to lose any momentum we’ve created.”

One of the groups at this year’s fair was the Madden Outdoor Education Center, part of the Westchester/Putnam BOCES.

“We go to the different elementary schools and put on nature programs that deal with everything from the weather to animals to gardening,” said center representative Ryan McCormick. “We teach them that this is what you are trying to sustain.”

Rick Skriloffa was at the fair with his sons, Alec and Marc. He said the school was already engaging children in environmental and sustainability issues and the fair provided more synergy on the topics.

“I think they’re already interested in it,” he said. “They teach it at an early age now. It’s the kids that come home and make you recycle.”

Westchester County Legislator Peter Harckham said the fair has grown quite a bit since its inception and has brought its message to a broader audience.

“It’s not just about a certain segment of the population anymore,” he said. “People are building (green living) into the fabric of their lives in order to build a more sustainable future.”

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