If Eco Elvis has anything to say about it, children and parents attending Sunday’s Kaw Valley Eagles Day will be boogying to the tune of a cleaner environment.
Clad in a shimmering green jumpsuit made from soda can tops and frozen juice lids, Eco Elvis, an environmental evangelist from Kansas City, strummed a guitar and sang tunes like “Viva Las Vegans” and “Compost Hotel.”
“I’m here to get you all shook up about the environment,” he said, mugging for cameras by imitating the King’s trademark lip curl.
Eagles Day, now in its 13th year, is spearheaded by the Jayhawk Audubon Society with support from various groups including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“It’s mostly an opportunity for families ... to learn a lot about nature and things they don’t get to see on a regular basis,” said Joyce Wolf, program director for the Jayhawk Audubon Society. “It’s not just eagles, it’s nature in general.”
But eagles were the main attraction.
The Audubon Society organized several field trips to Clinton Lake early in the day, where people hoped to catch a glimpse of eagles in their natural environment.
But with parts of the lake frozen and many eagles instead living near the Kansas River where food is abundant, one of the groups saw only one eagle, Wolf said.
Lawrence resident Tim Manning brought his daughter Aidin, a second-grader at Broken Arrow School, to learn more about eagles. He said they often observe a brood of cardinals in their backyard. Although the Mannings didn’t get to see a bald eagle at the event, Aidin was busy building a cardboard bird house.
Manning said his family tries to attend similar events, and enjoys seeing animals at the Prairie Park Nature Center, 2730 Harper St. “We’re just proactive in doing things like that,” he said.
About 20 organizations, ranging from the Coast Guard Auxiliary to Westar Energy’s Green Team, set up educational booths in Free State’s foyer.
Naturalists from Prairie Park Nature Center aimed to show that all animals, whether an exotic macaw, a mean-looking rat snake or a hissing cockroach, have a unique place in the environment.
“They’re nature’s recyclers,” naturalist Tasha Schultz said of the hissing cockroach. “They have a spot in the ecosystem, and they’re important.”
Seeing creatures like the cockroach and participating in hands-on activities, such as dissecting owl pellets, are valuable ways to teach children about nature, Wolf said.
“We’re hoping that in total the whole day (fosters) a better understanding of nature in general, and how we fit into the big picture,” she said.