Teaching kids about the environment and papermaking

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Tom Kain, Forester, Kingsport Mill

Every fall for the last 25 years, Rick Martin with the Tennessee Division of Forestry organizes the Hamblen County Conservation Field Days at Cherokee Park in Morristown, Tennessee. This is an event for the fourth grade students of the county and is designed to provide a full day away from the classroom focused on learning about the environment and natural resource conservation.

The park is organized into 13 separate stations. The students are given 15 minutes at each station to learn about a different subject, such as recycling, fire safety, back yard wildlife viewing, geology and paper. Other stops of interest are the wildland fire fighting equipment, a live fish tank, and an owl.

For at least the last 10 years, the foresters from the Kingsport Mill have manned a station throughout the three day event. First, we explain why we need forests for animal habitat, oxygen, food, and building supplies to make products we use every day like tables and chairs, but also things like some plastics, cosmetics, maple syrup and toothpaste!

In the second half of the talk, the foresters discuss how paper is made in Kingsport. We start in the forest and take them all the way through to a finished package of paper. The children are always amazed at how big all the machinery is and how fast we can make paper on K1.

At the end of our presentation, we donate a ream of paper to each teacher, which is graciously donated by the Ridgefields Converting Center “for tests and quizzes”. This, of course, elicits a large groan from the students and a thank you from the teacher!

We were fortunate enough last year to also be able to offer each individual student a bound paper notebook, thanks to the generosity of Lewis Fix, Domtar’s Vice-President of Sustainable Business and Brand Management. We told the kids this was for all the fun activities they can have with paper like doodling, making paper airplanes and writing notes (but not in class, of course)!

This is a great experience for the students, teachers, and the volunteers. It is also a team Domtar event. Our group is very lucky to have the support of the Kingsport Mill, Ridgefields and the Domtar Operations Center. It allows us to put on a positive, quality educational event that directly touches about 900 students, 25 parents and 50 teachers annually.

Rick Martin tells us that our stop is always the students’ favorite…

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