World Wetlands Day 2002: USA


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From: Mary Beth Dechant 

World Wetlands Day at the Shedd Aquarium

Dear Valerie,

My colleagues and I here at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago are planning an evening event that will highlight World Wetlands Day. We wanted to share with you a description of our event, and tell you a bit about who our audience will be, because we are very excited to get this going and hope that you will appreciate our efforts!

The people who will attend this event are participants of a program called Park Voyagers, which is a multi-faceted collaborative effort between the Chicago Park District and nine city museums. The program includes, respectively, an after-school component, monthly family workshops, and monthly special events at the nine city museums intended only for the participants. It is a very unique and highly regarded program in the city, as the target audience is inner-city families who often do not have the resources available to become acquainted with the city's museums.

One activity that we are very excited about is a mural collage of a wetland scene that all the participants will help to construct. We would like to present the finished mural to Ramsar, in appreciation of the landmark treaty and the positive impact it has had in the conservation of wetland ecosystems from around the world. Please let me know if you would accept this gift from the children of Chicago, and to where we should send the mural.

Below you will find a brief description of the event and the activities that will take place. We hope you will share this with your colleagues, as this will be a special evening for everyone involved.

By the way, the kids love the stickers you mailed to me! Thank you very much!

Mary Beth Dechant
Community Programs Facilitator
Shedd Aquarium Education Department
(p) 312. 692.3160 (f) 312.663.1472 (e)

Park Voyagers

2002 World Wetlands Day Celebration

John G. Shedd Aquarium

The theme of Shedd Aquarium's Park Voyagers Phase 3 2002 celebration will be World Wetlands Day, a holiday initiated as part of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Iran, 1971). The Ramsar Bureau states "World Wetlands Day [2002] should be an occasion to discover the concrete functions and values of wetlands." Our event will be a celebration of the functions and values of wetlands from around the world, as well as of the various cultures dependant upon them. In each gallery of the Aquarium we will highlight wetlands from different continents and conservation issues surrounding each ecosystem (Peru's Amazon in Amazon Rising gallery; Lake Victoria wetlands of Africa in Asia, Africa, Australia gallery; the Sundarban of Bangladesh in Tropical Waters gallery; and the coastal salt marshes of California in Ocean Coasts gallery).

We would like this to be a broad-reaching event that highlights both the peoples that live in and around the wetlands of interest, as well as the work that local conservation groups do in the field of wetland restoration. To facilitate this goal, we will invite different environmental groups from the Chicago region that work to restore and maintain healthy wetland ecosystems to exhibit and teach the participants about their work. Additionally, we will invite ethnic associations from regions near the wetlands we highlight to teach the participants about the music, art, and games of their respective cultures. We hope that this will be an initial step in forming a relationship between community members and local environmental advocacy groups.

Crafts and hands-on activities that focus on conservation issues will occur throughout the aquarium all evening. Crafts will include family photo frames created by participants from a template and decorated with paper cutouts of wetland plants and animals. Another craft will be a mural to which each student will add wetland plants and animals. We would like to send this mural to the Ramsar committee, possibly to be used in your promotional materials, if the organization would be interested. We will also have hands-on floor activities that will relate to wetlands and current conservation issues surrounding wetlands. Adding to the crafts that we will sponsor, we expect the invited groups to bring hands-on activities relating to their subject or crafts/games from their respective cultures.

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