Children gathered at Hopelands Gardens on Wednesday to celebrate and learn more about the world around them.

The City of Aiken, along with event co-sponsor Savannah River Remediation, held its ninth annual Earth Day Celebration, which offered an educational and fun experience to young students around the area.

At least five school groups were in attendance. East Aiken School of the Arts Teacher Kathy Linton brought more than a dozen children to the event and said it’s something they participate in each year.

“It’s just a great way to get the kids to learn about the earth and gain social consciousness,” Linton said.

The children learned about a variety of topics including recycling, wildlife and the various elements of the earth, just to name a few. Some of the exhibitors included the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, the Savannah River Ecology Lab, the Wild Turkey Federation, the S.C. Bluebird Society, the Master Gardeners, the Aiken Gem, Mineral and Fossil Society, the Hitchcock Woods Foundation and Aiken County Litter Control.

The students were able to meet and greet reptiles, learn how to make turkey calls, watch dull rocks get chopped in half to find shimmering drusy quartz in the center and so much more.

Dr. Gary Senn and Aimee Barton with the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center had telescopes set up through which students could safely view the sun. They discussed solar safety with the children and also had scales that showed students what they would weigh on different planets.

“It’s great to see that the students are able to come here excited about the opportunity to celebrate the Earth,” Senn said.

Wednesday was cool and sunny, continuing the good weather trend that the event has fortunately experienced over the years. Aiken City Mayor Fred Cavanaugh remarked that it was a beautiful day, and he was happy to see so many kids thrilled to be at the celebration and ready to learn.

“It’s just so important that we take care of our Earth – not just on Earth Day (which falls on April 22) but every day,” Cavanaugh said.

Officer Samuel Ford with the Aiken County Litter Control said it’s beneficial to teach children at a young age the importance of such things as recycling. With landfills quickly filling, instilling good environmental habits within the next generation could help make a positive impact.

“They’re the future,” Ford said. “They’re going to have to grasp the reins, sort of speak, and they will have to take care of the environment.”