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College students host Earth Day event at West Texas A&M University

story by Quenna Terry

West Texas A&M University's First Annual Earth Day event was held on April 25. The University's Department of Life, Earth, and Environmental Sciences invited the Palo Duro Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other agencies and related businesses to participate in the event on the college campus in Canyon, near Amarillo.

In a unique setting, students organized exhibits and projects inside the student union building and outside in the courtyard. A list of presenters was available to encourage students to hear about natural resource conservation and recycling.

NRCS, in cooperation with the Palo Duro SWCD, and Pheasants Forever Inc., displayed an exhibit of common conservation practices and presented a continuous conservation video of good land stewardship in Texas. Conservation planning and program handouts were also available along with recruitment information for students interested in learning more about NRCS.

"We wanted to participate in this event for two primary reasons," said Matt Pruner, NRCS District Conservationist from Canyon. "This is an opportunity for NRCS to reach out to students as possible future employees and to provide conservation education."

Professors, students from the environmental science society, department of life, earth and environmental sciences, the Geology Society, and Beta Beta Beta, as well as guest speakers from the community presented short programs on current issues related to soil and water conservation and recycling.

Topics included water management, waste water treatment, BP oil spill, algae blooms in bodies of water in Texas, climate change, pollution, and the future of water supplies in the Panhandle region.

Emmett Autrey, Director of Utilities from the City of Amarillo, presented a program on considerations of various alternative water source strategies for the Panhandle area and the City of Amarillo.

Some of the alternative sources Autrey focused on were conservation measures readily available and at reduced cost; storm water capture and treatment; desalination of brackish and saline water; and wastewater re-use such as effluent to potable water through advanced treatment technologies.

Josh Grace, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist with Pheasants Forever, assisted NRCS and the SWCD providing information to students about private land conservation and wildlife.

"Our mission is to promote healthy wildlife habitat on private lands through working with landowners and partnerships such as the NRCS," said Grace. "Being new to the area, and with my position as a Farm Bill wildlife biologist, this was a great opportunity to meet people and let them know why we are here and what we are doing."

Students from the environmental society were also very creative in the development of the projects they presented in the courtyard. As a creative way to use solar energy power, one group of students made a makeshift oven out of cardboard and foil that was being used to bake cookies. After about one hour of baking in the sun, fresh cookies were served to students and participants attending the Earth Day activities.

Organizers of the event hope more students will become involved in this activity in future years. Deanna Porter, District Technician for the Palo Duro SWCD, said, "The soil and water conservation district is committed to working with the NRCS to provide outreach education. Our involvement in this event is important to the district to help educate students and the public about what farmers and ranchers are doing to produce cleaner water, cleaner air, and abundant habitat for wildlife and recreation."

Environmental Student presents at Earth Day forum Earth Day sponsored by Earth and Environmental Sciences

Students from the department of life, earth' and environmental sciences at West Texas A&M University planned and organized an agenda of speakers from the community as well as students and professors for the 2012 Earth Day event on campus.

Earth Day activities at WTAMU campus in Canyon were planned and organized by students from the Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences, the Environmental Sciences Society, Geology Society, and Beta Beta Beta.

Earth Day at WTAMU_2012 WTAMU Courtyard

NRCS participated in the 1st Annual Earth Day event at WTAMU campus.

WTAMU campus is located in Canyon, near Amarillo. Part of the Earth Day festivities were held in the courtyard area outside of the Student Union Hall.

Student group baked cookies at earth day event

Students from the Environmental Sciences Society made projects for display during the Earth Day celebration.