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Flushing’s Voelker Orth Museum hosts Earth Day fete

The Voelker Orth Museum in Flushing opened its doors and yard to visitors last Thursday for an educational Earth Day event for children.

Drawing on the expertise of the museum’s volunteers and employees, as well as representatives of environmentally minded initiatives, the affair was a rare chance for area students to spend a day among the treasures of nature.

As in the tale of the city mouse and the country mouse, many of the children were gleeful at the opportunity just to see, smell and touch a range of blooming flowers, twisting ivy and a real beehive.

“Here it’s small and intimate. We’re showing as many natural things as we can,” the museum’s beekeeper, Urte Schaedle, said. “We get a lot of children here, inner-city students, so for them it’s great to experience the nature here. It’s special to them.”

But as they meandered through the Victorian garden surrounding the 19th-century home at 149-19 38th Ave., they also managed to learn a great deal about the world around them and ways they can help protect it.

A visiting class of wide-eyed sixth-grade boys from Yeshiva Ketana in Kew Gardens Hills said they had a marvelous time because they got to spend the day learning outdoors instead of in their classrooms.

Shlomo Zalman Schwartz, a Kew Gardens resident and student at the school, made a bird feeder and said his favorite part of the outing was learning about honeybees, but he also said the message of environmentalism was a highlight.

“I think Earth Day is important to everybody because the world is getting polluted and I think we should do our best to make the world greener and less polluted,” Schwartz said.

Schaedle who tends the hive and helps create what she describes as the best honey in Queens, taught attendees about the anatomy and habits of bees, the basics of apiculture, which is the art of raising bees.

“The important thing about Earth Day is for people to learn to reuse and recycle and care about birds and honeybees — all kinds of living things. It’s the day to remind people to take care of the environment,” she said. “Children need to respect the environment and learn as much as possible.”

John Bowne High School plant science majors Manuel Pinguil of Corona and Mauro Verdugo of East Elmhurst offered another way to learn about conservation and ways youngsters can help the environment. Their station focused on trees and the important roles trees play in ecosystems.

“We want the kids to learn more about trees and how to plant, and that they should give a tree instead of flowers on Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day,” Verdugo said. “It’s about how trees help us, and how do you make tree-planting fun and relate it to the kids.”

For more information about the Voelker Orth Museum and its programming, visit vomuseum.org.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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