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Earth Day Festival in Norman, Oklahoma

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The Little River Zoo in Norman, Oklahoma wants to teach kids and remind adults about being kind to the earth, wildlife, and each other. That’s the message they teach every day at the zoo and this Sunday, in celebration of Earth Day, the Little River Zoo is bringing that message to the community. The 11th Annual Kids for Kindness festival is being held at Reaves Park in Norman from noon to 6 p.m. There will be booths from local businesses, lots of fun and educational activities, a petting zoo, and a menagerie of local mascots.

The Little River Zoo is not just your normal zoo where you might spend the afternoon looking at animals through cage bars or perhaps grab a snow cone. From the moment you walk into the Little River Zoo, you’re up close with the animals. When I did the interview for this article, I turned around and found myself face-to-face with a full-grown skunk named Honey and I even got to pet a porcupine. Each animal at the Little River Zoo has a story. Most are rescue animals and all are socialized so that they can interact with humans. This zoo does not believe in spectators but in hands-on education. And hands-on education is exactly what they have planned for Sunday.

Director of Operations Mickey Pierce, says, “We have furry little ambassadors, which makes it an easy concept to understand—to love your planet.” The Kids for Kindness event Sunday is free of charge so that everyone has the opportunity to participate and have fun. Co-founder and Director of Little River Zoo Janet Sadler Schmid says, “In the past we’ve had well over 100 different organizations from the community that come together to support the zoo and to put on the event and to send their message from a humane educational level.” Janet says there are activities appropriate for all ages, even toddlers.

At the end of the day, kids will go through a graduation ceremony of sorts. They will make a promise to be a kind kid and be good to the planet, and then get a certificate. “They get their little cup of lady bugs to take with them to understand about letting the ladybugs go—not in the back seat of the car, but in your yard. And that’s kind of a furthering of the message. It’s a life changing thing for a lot of kids,” Janet says.

Each organization that sets up a booth is bringing a message and showing how they work that message into their business. For example, Home Depot will be teaching kids how to plant flowers. Even businesses who are not setting up booths have contributed in other ways, such as providing food for the volunteers, ice, water, transportation, and even a tent for the petting zoo.

It isn’t too late to help out. Janet says they always need more volunteers and Mickey says there is still room for more booths. “It’s a big park. I’m going to take them if they want to come,” Mickey says, even “if I have to write your name on 1000 maps on Saturday.” If you are interested in volunteering or setting up a booth, contact Mickey Pierce at (405) 366-7229.

Whether you come out for an hour or for the entire afternoon, “Kids for Kindness” promises plenty of fun and education for kids and adults alike. And even if you can’t make it out to Reaves Park on Sunday, you can find the same message at the Little River Zoo 365 days a year.

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About Jessica Lada