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NRCS Joins Earth Fest 2011

NRCS Joins Earth Fest 2011 at the Largest Environmental Celebration in the Army

Story by Randy Henry

In a festive atmosphere under two big top tents, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) joined 50 other exhibitors displaying information about natural resources, water conservation, recycling, renewable energy, endangered species, energy resources, and other environmental topics during Earth Fest 2011 on April 29 at Fort Hood, Texas. The event is the largest Earth Day celebration in the Army.

Conservation education was the theme this year, and presented information about water conservation, pollinators, conserving the Earth�s natural resources, and helping the environment to more than 1,700 fourth and fifth-graders from the Killeen Independent School District (ISD), Rogers ISD, Temple ISD, Copperas Cove ISD, and Fort Hood.

�Earth Fest was a huge success with so many students coming from the surrounding ISDs and communities, and more than 18,000 people attending the event this year,� said Christine Luciano, outreach coordinator for DPW Environmental at Fort Hood.

Students and teachers visiting the NRCS table received a presentation about conservation and outreach materials, including Sammy Soil coloring books, For the Good of the People fun facts, Your Hometown Clean Water Tour, and Backyard Conservation handbooks. Plus, many teachers asked for lesson plans about conservation topics for their students to complete in science classes this year.

�The key for young students in this area are hands-on lessons, so we address better water quality and the importance in helping the environment stay clean,� said Ken Schoen, president of the Lake Stillhouse Clean Water Committee. �We have worked with NRCS during many Earth Day events, so we combined water conservation and natural resources education in our presentations for all the students and teachers.�

Annually, Earth Fest is the largest outreach effort for the Fort Hood Environmental Division, and the exhibitors get to reach students who may not learn about conservation and natural resources outside of this annual event.

�Earth Fest 2011 was one of the largest events we have had during Earth Day at Fort Hood, and the exhibitors went the extra distance to educate everyone that attended,� Luciano said. �Students and teachers alike all received great information from the exhibitors about our Earth and helping the environment.�

Ft Hood Archeology Insects and Dr Miller

To show some of the environmental history of Fort Hood, Sunny Wood, an archeologist in cultural resources for DPW Environmental at Fort Hood, displays various artifacts that have been discovered on the military post, including a Mastodon leg bone, left, plant and animal fossils, and arrowheads from past Native American tribes that once lived in the area.

Dr. William Miller, Ph.D. and entomologist for the U.S. Army Environmental Command at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, shows a group of students insects that now live, or have lived on Fort Hood, including this Madagascar Hissing Cockroach during Earth Fest 2011.

Ken Schoen Recycle Bingo Education

To illustrate the importance of water quality and the need for cleaner water, Ken Schoen, president of the Lake Stillhouse Clean Water Committee, uses an Enviroscape model and toys to educate students about water conservation at Earth Fest 2011.

Hundreds of students enjoyed a game of recycle bingo to help them understand the importance of recycling in today�s world. The theme at Earth Fest 2011 was environmental education, and many exhibitors used games to help educate students and teachers during the event.