Unnatural Resources InstitutePO Box 20524., Greenville, NC 27858
"Promoting different and creative ways to recycle and reuse"
Promote community activities that
involve students, teachers, parents, and other concerned citizens by
encouraging growth and development by the
creative use of discarded materials.
Goals & Objectives
Nourish the imagination
Support family togetherness
Forge supporting links among people, schools, and the community
Foster recycling awareness
Increase community cooperation
Reduce landfill waste
How the Unnatural Resources Fair Began.
As an elementary School science coordinator for the PTA several years ago, I was challenged to obtain science equipment for 530 students with parents’ donations. One day while straightening the science storage room, I found instructions on how to build a potato battery out of wires, metal strips, potatoes, and a tiny light bulb. I had never made one and the notion intrigued me so I rummaged the area and our garage until I found the supplies. I worked all morning that day and couldn’t get the potatoes to turn on my light bulb, so I called my husband at work and asked him to come home for lunch and figure out why my potatoes were not lighting my light bulb. I am sure if his secretary had heard our conversation, she would have thought I was crazy. He came home, tested it and told me to go to Radio Shack for a smaller HO train light. So off I went with my tray of potatoes, set them on the counter and asked the clerk for a light to fit my potato battery. To my surprise, he didn’t question my sanity, but just told me to try the two bulbs he had. A few seconds later, we got the light working. As I was leaving, he commented that lemons would probably work better.
From then on, I was challenged to make things out of all kinds of so-called “trash” that people were throwing away. It became such an entertaining challenge that I felt the students would have fun making their own hands-on equipment for their other subjects from discards or scraps that we named unnatural resources. We put on unnatural resource demonstrations in other classes and at all levels throughout the school. Finally with permission from the principal, we had our first school-wide contest for the projects and inventions, called “The Unnatural Resources Fair” The categories included art, science, math, music, home use, toys, physical education, and miscellaneous. We gave participation ribbons and one trophy.
Since the school fair was such a success the next month I introduced the idea for a countywide fair sponsored by the Pitt County PTA Council. I took my traveling Unnatural Resources Fair demonstration to the various schools to explain the fair to students and teachers. With the help of two very dedicated PTA Council members, Connie Bond and Jan Folsom, the first countywide Unnatural Resources Fair was held May 8, 1993, at the Ayden Arts and Recreation building-(a recycled school building)-with 11 schools participating? The Pitt County Clean Sweep Organization purchased the 8 trophies and the PTA Council the ribbons. The Greenville Pubic Works Recycling Division, Pitt County Recycling Department, Proctor and Gamble recycling program, and J.H. Rose High School composting project set up display booths to dispense information and answer questions. In the schoolyard, volunteers supervised children’s games made from unnatural resources. We all felt that the fair was a success, considering that it was totally new concept and put together in a short time.
The next year, the Carolina East Mall manager wanted an environmental event and we just fit the bill. I was terribly excited that our fair was wanted in the mall—a much more central location—and that students had started referring to me as the Unnatural Resources Lady. This dream was really coming true. We added more trophy awards donated by county businesses and small monetary awards from Pitt County Clean Sweep, plus the Mayor’s Choice Awards. It had now become an all ages’ fair, kindergarten to senior citizens. Everyone in the county could participate. The Greenville Pubic Works Department made outdoor banners to advertise the fair. The Pitt County Community Schools collected the entry forms so that we had a central location.
The first fair had entry categories for Math, Science, Music, Art, PE, Home Use, and Miscellaneous. We have added through the years more categories such as “Tools”, “Social Studies/History” to have civilizations, culture and dress displays, and “Language Arts” so as to encourage essays, poems, puppet shows, plays and stories on the environment and recycling. A logo has been developed to symbolize this important activity. “Pitt County, NC – Home of the Unnatural Resources Fair.”
Some teacher are allowing students to choose to make either a Science Fair project or Unnatural Resources Fair project and some have their own fairs because the events are so close together and because not everyone excels in science. One school has had their own annual middle school fair for 6 years by 2007. This way all the students could see their friend’s projects before they bring them to the fair. Many students don’t get to visit the big fair so they were able to see their school’s entries. They would understand what the fair was all about.
We have grown to the Greenville Convention Center when the Carolina East Mall
was torn down in 2006. In 2007 the fairs name was changed to Eastern Carolina
Unnatural Resources Fair to let anyone east of I-95 participate. Other North
Carolina county residents are now coming to compete for ribbons and trophies.
All I can say now is that the rest of the story is yet to be written. We hope
someday that many counties will have their own fairs and the winners will go
to a State competition an -- who knows? --Maybe even National competition. We
will go onward and upward with the Unnatural Resources Institute.