CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dozens of elementary school students are learning about being good environmental stewards in honor of Earth Day.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Clay Center teamed up to host the annual Earth Day Celebration Tuesday for grade school-aged kids across Kanawha and surrounding counties.

WVDEP Youth Environmental Program Director, Annette Hoskins said it’s a great learning experience for the kids.

“It’s great because they learn so much, but they don’t realize they’re learning because they’re having such a great time,” said Hoskins. “The kids are super excited to see bugs, and the fish, snakes, and learn about run-off and litter control.”

Various exhibits from state and federal agencies were on hand with the WVDEP. They had educational displays and activities set up for the students promoting environmental stewardship and resource conservation.

WVDEP’s Environmental Youth Program was teaching kids about recycling though activities such as the life-cycle of a water bottle.

Other exhibits included those from West Virginia American Water, who was talking about the state’s drinking water, Chemours, teaching them about preserving the state’s natural resources, and live bugs, fish and snakes native to West Virginia’s streams and forests were also there to show kids how it’s important to preserve them, as well.

A fifth grade student from Overbrook Elementary School in Charleston, Lydia McCallister, was excited to be taking part in the water bottle activity in which the students would pretend they were a water bottle and where they might end up, whether at a landfill, on the ground, or in the recycling bin.

She said she has always valued recycling and was excited to learn more about it.

“It feels good, because my parents taught me a lot about recycling, but I want to learn more, because I always like to know more, so it’s really good to learn about it,” McCallister said.

Hoskins said it’s never too early to instill in people the importance of protecting the world they live in.

“You know, we only have one earth and we have to take care of it, or our future generations are not going to exist, so absolutely we have to teach them at a young age what they need to do,” Hoskins said.

McCallister said while she knew of the importance behind not littering the planet, one aspect she didn’t know that she learned at Tuesday’s event was just how much plastic ends up in the earth’s oceans.

She said it all starts with one person just taking the time to get educated about the steps they can take to help protect the planet, and that in turn, will create a ripple effect.

“If you know knowledge you can tell more people and you can educate them and you can help more people,” McCallister said. “If one person has the knowledge then they can do more then the ten people who don’t know it,”

The Watershed Improvement Branch, Division of Air Quality and Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP), and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers were among other organizations on-hand with environmental education and activities Tuesday.

The annual event was held the day following Earth Day, which is observed on April 22.