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Rubber Ducks Star At Beyond Earth Day
Yellow rubber duckies dropped from the bridge and floated down the Stanislaus River, delighting the children while local firefighters, busy stringing a hose across the river to catch the ducks, fascinated the adults at Saturday's Beyond Earth Day festival at Jacob Myers Park.

The connection of these events to saving the environment and preserving Mother Earth appeared tenuous but there was no doubt most visitors had a good time wandering among the educational booths, listening to local singers and watching a magician and jugglers on stage.

Proceeds from selling the ducks went to a fund to maintain the beautiful, riverside park and each duck carried a child's name so the winners could be recognized.

Children also got to draw their own designs for a conservation poster contest with the winners also announced on stage and each receiving a bicycle as a prize.

The overall champion was Tabitha Bandy. First place winners by age group included Ariane Reyes in the 14-18 years group, Christina Lopez for 10-13, Oscar Valenzuelas for 7-9 and Emma Sanders for 3-6.

Many visitors were walking around with potted saplings donated by Frantz Garden Center of Waterford and available for free from the Greater Tree Foundation of Modesto as it has done in previous years.

The smaller pots cradled in people's arms carried tomato and herb plants bought for a few dollars from Future Farmers of America teens running the Riverbank Community Gardens stall or put together from garden waste at the Gilson Waste Management booth.

Acro Energy, a private company that recently relocated from Oakdale to Modesto, was advertising the virtues of solar energy to reduce greenhouse emissions and fight climate change, create "green" jobs and ease the strain on the electricity grid so as to cut blackouts.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company was offering recommendations on caring for trees and ensuring property owners plant the right kind in the right place. Redwoods, for instance, can grow several hundred feet high and endanger power lines and the homes beneath them, a palm tree cannot be pruned at all while a crepe myrtle averages 15 to 20 feet high and bears pretty flowers as well.

Rancho Piccolo, a small family farm in Atwater that grows produce without uses of fertilizers or herbicides, was there again offering to deliver organic vegetables, fruits, eggs from grass-fed hens and even natural grass-fed beef.

Stanislaus County's Department of Environmental Resources also had a booth stressing the three R's of waste management, that are reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reducing waste can involve buying the larger package of a product to save packaging, for example, or using a mulching mower to leave the clippings on the lawn.

Reuse can mean passing on used but well preserved clothing in a garage sale or packing a lunch box with plastic container and thermos rather than brown paper bags and canned drinks.

Recycling can range from setting out materials at the curbside for pickup to bringing materials to a recycling center for cash or donating the materials to groups that collect them.