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Earthworms and Earthfest
By: Brenda, Director of Education and Volunteers, Audubon Zoo
I just finished my 6 foot earthworm model in time for this weekend’s Earthfest at the Audubon Zoo. This zoo festival is dedicated to educating the public about conservation methods that they can do themselves and making everyone aware of their responsibility to take care of our precious planet. This festival is also about having fun; there will be live music, food, crafts and our wonderful residents-the animals.
Now, back to the worm-the Zoo education department is proud to show off for the first time our little “Conservation Station”. We have a garden with vegetables and flowers that we use for our special events and animal enrichment. We have rain barrels and composting. We have a wonderful urban chicken coop and we have our vermicomposting. Vermicomposting uses worms to turn organic waste into high quality compost. We also have lots of reptiles and birds here at the zoo that love to eat worms so raising them ourselves is a smart, sustainable thing to do. Families who vermicompost can reduce their garbage by up to a third and provide their own organic soil for potted plants and gardens to grow their own healthy food.
Earthworms are amazing creatures and we look forward to telling everyone about them. I made the giant-size model earthworm out of recycled t-shirts to help demonstrate the earthworm structure and reproductive system. The earthworm I made even has a light pink, removable clitellum to demonstrate the reproductive section that you may be wondering about. The clitellum is the thickened glandular section of the earthworm. This is where the earthworm cocoons are created. After the eggs are dropped the clitellum is shed. My recycled t-shirt worm can do that!
Many people think that earthworms are the most important animal in the world. They eat organic waste and poop out castings that contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus, and 11 times more potassium than ordinary soil, the main minerals needed for plant growth. We will be happy to tell you about them and let you meet them up close this weekend. We are even raffling off a worm bin for your own home.
Please come to Earthfest with your family and find out the many ways that you can help be a better steward for our plant. It would also be nice if you will leave with some plans for your very own earthworms.
Earthfest is March 19th and 20th. 10am-5pm. Free with zoo admission.