By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

Worms, birds, seeds and trees all played into a series of earth-focused lessons and projects around Killeen ISD schools leading to Earth Day.

Numerous elementary schools observed the emphasis on protecting the earth through lessons that paralleled curriculum about habitats, birds and other plant and animal topics.

Cedar Valley Elementary School received a visit Thursday from a pair of "worm women."

Linda Olson, a former KISD principal, and Jill LaCour brought displays of their worms and explained how the wrigglers work to create an organic soil that effectively nurtures gardens and cleanly disposes of organic matter.

Olson showed a class of first-graders the familiar three-arrow symbol and explained the meaning and benefit of recycling,

reducing and reusing. She said cutting back on waste keeps garbage from landfills, which can emit methane gas and contaminate ground water.

Pulling out an apple core and a banana peel, LaCour told students she would take the biodegradable items home to feed her worms, which would transform the potential garbage into soil in a few weeks.

First-graders and other students at Cedar Valley used magnifying glasses to get a close look at the thin, reddish crawlers.

Walking the hallways between sessions, Olson said she and her husband are working on the worm-produced soil as a fertilizer and said she hoped to offer up worms in area farmer's markets.

A day will likely come, she said, when gardeners will keep worm bins just as many now keep compost bins.

At Trimmier Elementary School Friday, first-graders continued a week of earth-related studies learning about bird adaptations and getting their hands dirty making "tree heads."

Lana Mills visited the first-grade classes with her pet Myer's parrot and an Amazon parrot owned by one of the school's teachers. Students learned the differences between bird beaks that tear, crack or drill.

The first-graders used spoons, tweezers and Popsicle sticks to try to pick up birdseed like birds do with their beaks.

First-grade teacher Jerrie Cooper, an avid gardener, brought fresh-grown carrots, cabbages and beets for students to examine.

She said the most exciting part of the day was taking school outside, where children could learn science in nature.

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