Earth Day fair brings environmental awareness to campus

Arianna Davis

Connie Palkowetz, Wild Bird Rescue representative, showcases a black vulture for students to watch and observe on April 20. “She has no boundary and loves to get in people’s personal space,” Palkowetz said, as the vulture climbed on her head. Photo by Arianna Davis

Members of the new eco-friendly organization, Environmental Student Organization, decided to celebrate Earth Day by bringing different local organizations together in the Clark Student Center Atrium on April 20.

The event hosted by Jalen Mavero, environmental science junior and president of ESO, wanted to organize the event for students to have a chance to learn more about the local environment and about what the organization stands for. Although Earth Day is traditionally held on April 22, Mavero said he wanted to hold the fair on Thursday while students were still on campus instead of away for the weekend.

“I hope [the students] can become more aware of things happening locally. Being in Wichita Falls, people can think since we’re not near a jungle or major nature preserve, that there isn’t any kind of problem. There are things here in this city and on campus anyone can do to be nicer to the environment,” Mavero said. “It’s just little things you do everyday. My organization was wanting students to be more aware that there is more you can do than you think. All the booths we invited were earth-friendly, so we [ESO] hope students took a lot from that opportunity.”

One of the attendees, Zack Westgard, radiology senior, said he made an appearance to support the organization and look at all the hard work Mavero put in. He said that while he went in with intentions of just checking things out, he left learning about the importance of awareness and how the university could benefit from it.

“It’s good to know about the state parks and local places in our area. Compared to some other campuses, we’re not as environmentally active. People just need to be more aware about issues like that. We’re a college campus, so it should be forward thinking. Respect our environment and the things around us,” he said.

Furthermore, Westgard said he was pleased to learn about state parks and how close they actually are.

“The state park is closer than everyone thinks. It’s only 15 minutes away, and they have disc golf and mountain biking, which are two things I’m interested in. I’m sure other students are, as well,” Westgard said.

While Mavero aimed for students to learn about their local services, he also wanted to reward people for walking out to the fair. There was a sheet of paper with all the booths representing groups and organizations in the Wichita Falls area. For every booth visited, a stamp was provided. After five stamps, participants could turn it in as a raffle to win the smoothie blender bike and other various prizes.

“There always has to be something that brings people out. Something a little extra for people taking the time to come out to the fair. We’ve given out the smoothie blender bike at previous Earth Day fairs, but never to this extent,” Mavero said. “We also put a lot of other prizes in the pool, like T-shirts and goodie bag prizes that were donated to us by Waste Connections. A lot of people will be getting something out of it outside of the bike.”

In the center of the Atrium stood Ruby Arriaga, coordinator of student activities, who helped in providing the grand prize bike and ingredients to make smoothies. As students came and left, Arriaga allowed them to try out the bike and make a smoothie during the event. Afterwards, sample cups were passed out for anyone to enjoy.

“Our office [Student Activities] likes to do Earth Day, so when ESO came to us to partner up, we were excited to do so. We like to team up with different organizations to bring everyone together,” she said. “This is the fourth year we’ve done the smoothie bike. When I was a student here, I actually brought it on campus and we decided it would be cool to give it away as a prize for students and have been doing it ever since.”

As for funding other parts of the fair, Mavero said a lot of money didn’t go into providing for the event, but rather for planning and contacting other businesses. Any kind of funding came out of a bake sale that members of ESO hosted earlier in the semester from which they collected $100.

“A lot of it was planning and asking the right people,” he said. “The only thing that really cost anything were the bird houses that we were letting people paint, sell and educate themselves on at our booth during the fair,” he said.

Another attendee, Summer Ewing, business management sophomore, said she came originally for extra credit for her environmental science class, but more students need to be aware of whats around them.

“I think it’s cool to be able to have the chance to visit booths on campus and hear about the local services we have to help the environment,” she said. “Before coming here, I didn’t realize how many local things are here that care about the environment.”

Kyndal Diehm, chemistry sophomore, won the smoothie bike.

Ways You Can Help

  • Attend an Environmental Student Organization meeting. Every monday at 5 p.m. in Bolin Room 125 or 105. Discussions of what is going on, opportunities, and
  • Best thing you can do is bring more awareness.
  • Volunteer at Wild Bird Rescue: they are constantly seeking volunteers especially during Spring semester, which is baby bird season. No experience with birds is required.
  • Volunteer at Riverbend Nature Center: opportunities for volunteering available all the time, especially during fall for “critter” exhibits.
  • Pay more attention to the ways you throw away trash and make efforts to find recycling bins on campus
  • Subscribe to a newsletter. Snapchat stories work too. National Geographic covers a lot of environmental topics on their social media
  • Go to the Colloquium series on campus which brings environmental majors and topics to the university
  • Get interested in the EPA and read from what they have to offer