How many have any notion of what a renewable resource is?
How many realize products they use every day – products like chewing gum and toothpaste – come from trees? And how many can share the fact that conserving landfill space is one of the primary reasons recycling is so important?
Thanks to an environmental education program called the Wood Magic Forest Fair, hundreds of South Carolina’s students can provide answers to these and lots of other questions about forestry.
Thanks to generous sponsors including Georgetown’s International Paper, S.C. Forestry Association, the USDA Forest Service, and the SC Forestry Commission, Hobcaw Barony recently played host to this ongoing event.
The first Wood Magic Forest Fair was held in the fall of 1999 at Harbison State Forest in Columbia.
Since its inception 13 years ago, more than 26,000 children have participated in an event that has exceeds capacity every year. The fair has been held at multiple locations, including Harbison State Forest, Clemson University’s Botanical Gardens, S.C. State University’s Camp Daniels and Sewee Visitors Center between Georgetown and Charleston.
The goal of the program is to teach kids the importance of forests and forest products in their everyday lives.
Participants leave knowing sustainable forest management allows us harvest trees to provide jobs and for thousands of useful products even while enjoying the social and environmental benefits of healthy, thriving forests.
Earlier this month at Hobcaw, a variety of hands-on activities were led by forestry professionals from several organizations.
They were able to observe how lumber is made by watching an old-fashioned sawmill cut boards out of a log. They learned about prescribed burning and dressed in firefighting clothes. Instructors explained landfill problems and how recycling paper can help.
Playing games, students came to understand the interrelationship of plants, animals and people.
South Carolina Forestry Commission research shows that before the program, only 10 percent of students understood the U.S. has more forests today than 100 years ago.
After the program 94 percent recognize trees are a renewable natural resource and 78 percent come to realize more trees are planted each year in South Carolina than are harvested.
The Wood Magic Forest Fair is one of many programs supported and sustained by Hobcaw Barony, a prized natural resource of Georgetown County.
Visit the website, www.hobcawbarony.org or call 843-546-4623.
Teachers, students and/or parents interested in learning more about the Wood Magic Forest Fair can surf to www.state.sc.us/forest/wmfair.htm.
By Kimberly Duncan
For The Times