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In this file photo, fourth graders learn about water pollution at Keep Fremont Beautiful's Eco-Fair last year.

The environmental conservation group Keep Fremont Beautiful is gearing up for its 24th annual Eco-Fair, a science-fair like event where local non-profits, companies and other organizations teach fourth graders how to be environmentally friendly.

The event is set for Thursday, April 18, at the City Auditorium. The event invites fourth graders from all the Fremont schools, from Fremont Public Schools, Archbishop Bergan Catholic Schools and Trinity Lutheran Schools. They will spend the day visiting booths set up by various organizations, learning about conservation, and filling out a workbook.

The event is a big part of Keep Fremont Beautiful’s efforts teach kids about the environment, according to Executive Director Leila Hybl. The group does educational work with pre-school, kindergarten and second grade classrooms throughout the year. Students will then have all of that education culminate in the Eco-Fair once they reach the fourth grade.

“This is really just the culmination of all of our education that we’re able to do in the classroom,” Hybl said. “So this is a really great time to expose them to environmental issues that they will go on to learn about for their remaining educational career.”

Last year’s event featured 30 or so volunteer-run booths with various activities planned for students.

Examples of this year’s booths include the group Prairie Peacemakers Quilting Guild booth on re purposing materials. All Metals Market will be showing how every day items like soda cans are recycled. The Nebraska Groundwater Foundation will have a diagram of groundwater wells, and will be demonstrating how such wells get contaminated.

“Really, every booth has something special,” Hybl said. “Some of them have hands on activities.”

This year will feature some organizational changes, featuring a new color-coded workbook that kids will fill out throughout their visit. The booths will be grouped by topic.

Hybl said she worked with Educational Service Unit no. 2 to better structure the event around Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning ideas this year.

Hybl also praised former Keep Fremont Beautiful Executive Director Sue Reyzlik for her work in establishing the Eco-Fair, as well as the Keep Fremont Beautiful Board of Directors.

“Not one single business or organization has hesitated to participate,” Hybl said. “I think it really shows the strength of the event itself. It’s a really powerful educational format for students to be able to get out of the classroom and really interact with professionals in our community on a one on one basis, and also with their peers from different schools in a new setting that’s set up specifically for them.”

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