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Several hundred attend Earth Day event

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Whether they were slithering or sliding or stuffed, animals ruled the Earth Day celebration Monday.

The annual celebration, hosted at the Dulles State Office Building by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, featured a wide range of animals, from fish to spiders to multiple species of turtles.

At a table shared by DEC and SUNY Potsdam, volunteer James P. Flaherty was one of two presenters who led several groups of students through the nine species of turtles on display, with many of them indigenous to the state.

“People love seeing live animals,” Mr. Flaherty said. “It’s a great way to get an educational message across.”

He said many people incorporate animals from pop culture into lessons about the animals on display.

“You bring a turtle, and people talk about ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’” he said. “You bring a gecko, and people say, ‘That’s Geico.’”

The opportunity to learn up close about wildlife and environmental protection efforts brought out teacher Timothy J. Demster, who attended the event with several students from his elective environmental science class at Lyme Central School, Chaumont. He said the event was a culmination of their lesson on conservation.

“It’s not just me talking in class,” Mr. Demster said.

Monday’s event coincided with the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day and featured more than 20 exhibits from local and state conservation and wildlife groups, along with appearances by Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl.

One display demonstrated practical applications for clean air rules at homes and factories, along with comparisons of light bulb efficiency and the dangers of burning trash. Thomas F. Morgan, who organized the display, showed off a few handmade goods, such as a mock burning trash can he rigged with a fog machine.

Rebecca K. Storrings, an engineer with DEC’s Division of Water, ran a display that replicated how debris and sediment are removed from sewer water. On her display were several household items such as paint, oils and plastic toys that she said residents are advised to keep from sewers but which are frequently found at water treatment sites.

“If you don’t take it out, you’re going to pay someone to do it,” Ms. Storrings said.

Other displays featured conservation efforts at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park and Fort Drum, along with land surveying and recycling.

Stephen W. Litwhiler, spokesman for the Region 6 DEC office in Watertown, said several hundred people had been through the event during the day, which ran from the morning into the afternoon.

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