Top: Students show off their “Water Cycle in a Bag” projects. Above: Toi Basso, District senior administrative assistant, and Patty Williams, District senior revenue compliance coordinator, sign up students for a water conservation pledge at the Earth Day Expo at Challenger K–8 School of Science and Mathematics.
In April, District volunteers fanned out across the region, from kindergarten classes to college campuses and from community festivals to corporate headquarters, to get the word out on conserving water resources for Earth Day 2011.
Earth Day is honored around the world on April 22, although larger events such as festivals and rallies are often held throughout the month of April.
The District’s support of Earth Day events began on April 9 and extended to the end of the month. Events included those at USF Botanical Gardens, Hillsborough Community College, Pasco-Hernando Community College, Webber International University, Sweetbay Supermarket Headquarters, Charlotte County Earth Day & Spring Festival, and Pasco County Parks Earth Day at Crews Lake Wilderness Park. Staff from many District departments volunteered their time at these events.
Youth Education staff and District volunteers reaching out to schools and environmental education centers taught about water conservation, watershed protection and other topics. At the Nature’s Classroom open house and Earth Day celebration in Thonotosassa, an estimated 2,000 children and parents visited the District’s Youth Education table, made a “water cycle in a bag” and received District educational materials. At Challenger K–8 School of Science and Mathematics in Spring Hill, students took a pledge to conserve water in and around their homes. Overall, District staff reached more than 4,300 students and 1,800 adults at area Earth Day events.
This year the District awarded three Community Education Grants for projects related to Earth Day. Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful conducted 13 Earth Day water body cleanups throughout the county, Nature’s Academy hosted an invasive plant removal at Fort De Soto Park, and the Polk County Extension held a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ workshop. These events drew more than 1,000 participants.
“Earth Day is a great time to remember how much value our natural resources add to our lives,” said Beth Putnam, manager of the District’s youth and public education programs. “Participating in Earth Day events that draw a lot of people is one of the most efficient and effective ways to encourage people to conserve and protect our water resources.”