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Berks conservationists showcase nature’s beauty and importance at Earth Day celebrations

It’s not every day that your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swings by Reading to fight pollution.

But an array of Earth Day-themed events Saturday afternoon began with not one, but two of those superheroes — Dwayne Marston and Brandon Lesagonicz, of the Reading-Berks Association of Realtors — who bagged trash with machinelike efficiency around City Park.

Over 500 volunteers from the Great American Cleanup program racked up dozens of trash bags, leaving the park pristine for the start of the Berks County Earth Day celebration.

The event featured 68 conservation groups, activist organizations, businesses, and vendors, as well as an expected turnout of 1,500 — double the attendees of last year’s events, according to city Public Works officials.

The Berks County Earth Day event was held Saturday in City Park in downtown Reading. Mushrooms on display by the Giorgi Cos. Inc.(JEFF DOELP — SPECIAL TO THE READING EAGLE)

Demonstrations from Berks Nature, Friends of Nolde Forest and other local environmental groups highlighted the importance of environmental stewardship, and local efforts to protect the planet.

“We’re actually working on a pollinator garden for birds and bees and butterflies, because in the middle of the city you don’t really get that” said Cheyenne Krow, a farmer with Alvernia’s Bog Turtle Creek Farm, which aims to make healthy produce available for low-income families.

Bog Turtle Creek Farm was handing out snap pea sprouts at the event.

Jessica Logozo and her anti-litter hat. (KEITH DMOCHOWSKI — READING EAGLE)

No one captured the spirit of the day quite like Jessica Logozo, who wore a headdress pasted with empty bottles, plastic lids and other common waste items.

Logozo said the outfit, designed by local artist Bev Leviner, was designed to draw community attention to the costs of littering.

Families gathered to watch a presentation featuring special guests from the Elmwood Zoo in Norristown — including a skunk and a large tegu lizard — as animal keepers described how the creatures use their unique traits to survive and thrive in nature.

The Berks County Earth Day event was held Saturday in City Park in downtown Reading. Reptiles from the Elmwood Park Zoo, Norristown, were on display. (JEFF DOELP — SPECIAL TO THE READING EAGLE)

Browsing the stands in rapt attention was Megan Renniger of Reading and her daughter Savanah.

“We tried planting a tree at home, and we try and teach the kids about not littering,” Renniger said. “We come every year.”

A similar passion for nature was also on display Saturday afternoon at the county agricultural building in Bern Township, where local farmers, conservationists, and organizers from the Berks County Conservation District introduced the county to the first Conservation Celebration.

Several families attending enjoyed a petting zoo with two goats, while children laughed and tossed beanbags and played rain-garden pachinko on a large, wooden pachinko board.

In the corner sat a line of rain-garden barrels decorated with artistic depictions of trees, seas, Mother Earth and more.

At the Conservation Celebration on Saturday at the Berks County Agricultural Building in Bern Township, rain barrels painted by Berks County student for a competition based on this year’s theme, “Healthy Soil, Healthy Life.” Lori Snyder, New Tripoli, Lehigh County, looks over the artwork. (JEFF DOELP — SPECIAL TO THE READING EAGLE)

Environmental outreach coordinator Jennifer Brooks said the rain gardens were designed in a competition between students from Berks school districts, and attendees could purchase raffle tickets to vote on their favorite.

Honeybees buzzed within glass displays next to amber jars of honey at the stand from Funny Farm Apiaries LLC., manned by Mark Fujita.

Fujita said the key to keeping native bee populations healthy — including the bumble bee, whose population has plummeted more than 90% in recent years — is to plant more native pollinators and stop using pesticides.

Another native species in severe decline is the little brown bat, according to Steph Stronsik, with Pennsylvania Bat Rescue, which are endangered due to white nose syndrome, a deadly fungal infection.

At the Conservation Celebration on Saturday at the Berks County Agricultural Building in Bern Township, an endangered little brown bat that recovered from white nose syndrome is held by a member of Pennsylvania Bat Rescue. (JEFF DOELP — SPECIAL TO THE READING EAGLE)

Stronsik brought out live bat Ring Ding, a little brown bat who recovered from white nose syndrome, which she said is nearly always fatal for bats who contract it in the wild.

“We need to start paying attention to our bat populations,” Stronsik said, “Berks County is an important site, it’s a migratory pathway for a lot of bats.”

For Lori Snyder, who came to the Conservation Celebration all the way from New Tripoli, Lehigh County, this year’s Earth Day was a nothing short of a great learning experience.

“The food is great. The music is great. I learned a lot,” Snyder said.

Source: Berkshire mont

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