Promoting the Planet--Earth Day Expo Connects with the Masses
By Riley Cockram-Eagle Staff Writer
This planet so many people call home is constantly changing, just like the Eagle Tech program and newly created Evergreen Committee. Through the adaptations, however, everything continues to bloom in success, including the Earth Day Expo held on April 28 in Central Gym.
Eagle Tech students and Evergreen Committee members joined forces with their teachers and developed this expo to create, educate, and also learn. Over 500 people attended the event and viewed presentations on animal advocacy, alternate energy sources, upcycling, and more.
"We’ve got 10th and 11th grade environmental science students [presenting projects]," Kayla Messenger, Eagle Tech English 10 began. "The goal for today is not only to get the word out about Earth Day and what it means but also interactive experiences for people to take what they learn today with them."
Not only did students design presentations for this expo, but they also came up with the idea for an event showcasing their work and helped make it a reality.
"Eagle Tech as a whole came up with the idea. In fact, there was a previous attempt during COVID-19 but it wasn’t very successful, which made my class extremely excited to try and improve/make up for the previous Earth Day Expo," Brayden Hoffman, sophomore and Student Director recalled.
This day of environmental education wasn't just thrown together; it functioned as the Naturally Lit class content for the past semester
"It took around four months to complete this project," Hoffman continued. "We started working in January with a project called 'Dare to Ignite Change' where we created our booths and their concepts). After that project was completed, we began 'Agronomy Feeds the World.' We created buckets that were used in our raffle for the people who attended the event. The class had time to work on their projects almost every day and it was my job to assist them by being available, answering questions, working with my classmates, and having important conversations with my facilitators."
Acting as the Student Director for the Earth Day Expo was something Hoffman seemed grateful to do.
"I was elected by my classmates (and facilitators) for the role of Student Director. I have always been interested in tackling environmental issues but while being in Mrs. Lash's class I have discovered this passion can very much be my future, which is why I applied for this position and I am so honored to have planned and worked with my peers (as well as community partners) to put together/host this expo."
One of Hoffman's peers, senior Lorena Delgado-Salinas, presented information about fast fashion and its growing impact.
"The technical definition of fast fashion is the production of trendy clothing that is made fastly for a cheap price. It is unethical and contributes to worker exploitation and animal cruelty," she clarified. "You see online how workers are being treated [and] it makes you feel guilty. Fast fashion is cheap and affordable so it brings people in, but the thing is it all comes at a cost. This clothing causes 8% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions as well as wasting trillions of gallons of water each year.”
Delgado-Salinas admitted that she is partially to blame for this problem, like many others. Through this project, she's tried to be more environmentally friendly, though.
“I really like to buy clothes, like a lot, and every single day I focus on how to put together my clothes. I just love fashion," she said. "I try to find more sustainable ways of obtaining these clothes like second-hand shopping like at Goodwill or thrift shops but like just buying quality clothes can help because of how long they last."
Senior Hunter Shively focused his project on a personal passion, too: ants.
“I think it has a lot to do with just general interests with something that seemingly is so tiny but so widespread," Shively commented regarding his decision to make this his research topic. "We have ants all over. They are on every single continent ranging from different sizes and different species, and [living in] all sorts of interesting terrains. I would also credit it to this book right here, 'Adventures Among Ants' by Mark W. Moffett. It’s an amazing book. It covers many different ants; he has personally studied them. I highly recommend [it.]”
Shively wasn't the only student focused on animals.
"For my project, I chose [to discuss] the reintroduction of bobwhite quail into Franklin County, but also Virginia," senior Fletcher Foley explained. "They used to inhabit Franklin County but now their population has dramatically decreased to where if you see one in Franklin County it’s incredibly rare. We never know when a species will go extinct or become eradicated. If we turn our backs on nature and the environment, eventually it leads to a downward slope with some very bad consequences."
Foley, Shively, and other Expo presenters all selected and studied their topics independently in class and at home with the support of their teachers.
“I am in AP Environmental Science in Eagle Tech. I would recommend this class mainly because if we keep doing this independent project you [will] get to research something you're passionate about and you can present it in a pretty professional manner," Shively shared.
Sophomore Ethan Hash, another presenter, kept his research close to home by asking the opinions of his fellow Eagles regarding upcycling.
“Me and my group are doing upcycling because we did a poll around the school and 64.2% of people did not know what it was," Hash responded. "So now we are taking old chicken feed bags and pretty much any feed bag with plastic material and we are making grocery bags out of them and they can be reused and then we are taking milk jugs and making wallets.”
Hash's products reportedly ran out fast, inspiring others to upcycle with their own belongings.
"We had made a couple [of] extra milk carton wallets and sent them down to a different group to give out as prizes for their game and a lot of people wanted them. A lot of other people have come to watch us make the bags," he said.
Upcycling and recycling are how Michele Jones, history teacher and Expo attendee, is friendly to the environment.
"I try to be environmentally friendly," Jones declared. "I recycle, except we have to drive all the way to Floyd for recycling facilities now which is really out of the way, but I do recycle and I try to reuse things when I can. I have reusable shopping bags that I use when I go to the grocery store because I hate plastic bags."
Jones didn't come to this event alone. She brought her students to the Expo during their class period.
"I brought my students to this event because I want them to be more environmentally friendly and learn about recycling and composting and solar energy and those sorts of things so they can make good decisions in the future," she added.
It's one thing to be socially environmentally friendly, but to carry out environmentally friendly actions is another.
"Socially, I am environmentally friendly but I have a hard time actually contributing to sustainability and conservation because I just don’t think about it a lot," Raven Smith, junior and Expo attendee explained. "It’s not on the forefront of my mind before I do stuff but then afterward I feel bad and I’m like ‘Dang it, that’s not environmentally friendly.'"
Presenter Christian Ramirez, junior, can relate. That's why he used his research and presentation to advocate for environmental literacy.
"My project is on how we can encourage a community, specifically the school community at the moment, to participate in more eco-friendly ways of waste disposal, so recycling and composting," Christian Ramirez, a junior, shared. "I actually chose this topic because at one point I didn’t pay too much attention to it but then I joined the Evergreen Committee and they kind of opened my eyes that I’m producing a lot of waste [and] that’s not good for the environment. I wanted to show people how that’s very easy to do. There’s simple things like using reusable water bottles. If you go to a grocery store somewhere and can hold your stuff, don’t take a bag. Composting is a biggie, and always remember recycle, reuse, and reduce. Anybody can do these."
While teachers and presenters alike exclaimed their Earth Day Expo was successful, they're not even close to ending their journey toward making Franklin County more environmentally friendly.
"I think there needs to be more [expos]. In fact, I would love to be able to help out with the planning in the future," Hoffman aspired. "The success of the Earth Day Expo shows how much the community cares about environmental issues and we (as the science department and Evergreen Committee) need to focus on providing opportunities for students to pursue this, not only as a passion but as a career."
Hoffman's vision stretches even wider. “The goal of the Earth Day Expo was to inspire students, faculty, staff, and other community members to see these issues/ topics from another perspective. Of course, it would’ve been awesome if people began to make eco-friendly swaps or joined the school’s environmentalism club. However, I personally feel that the goal wasn’t necessarily to “recruit” new members but to, instead, strengthen the love that the community already has for these important topics.”